The Science of Modern Friendships

Social Media drives who we talk to and tend to get close with. In my opinion, we live in a bubble, believing that we choose who we interact with. In reality, it is an array of processes and algorithms set up by human beings and run by machines that determine this for us.

Dialing back to a story my friend told me at 4am on a Saturday morning, after our gang took the city of Bengaluru by storm. He said that while this night was good, it can't beat the Bengaluru of the 90s, when I knew that my Friday night would be at Pecos and I'd just have to go there alone, and friends would be there, just like that, without a plan. There was no social media, no friendly appointments mapped on a Google calendar. It was pure sociable living, untouched by technology, that entailed catching up with familiar faces and drinking familiar pegs of Old Monk. That was society as we knew it.

 

In the present day and age, we make acquaintances - at social gatherings and on social media, through friends and family circuses and more so through Insta families. While we call them friends, the identity of the word has changed drastically. And while influencers boast of their Insta families, aren't friends on social media really just influencers? Shaping the way we live, what we watch, and making us follow a tide. You see, a friendship or any relationship demands time, demands expression, and is built on understanding. A friend is someone who you'd choose for yourself, not what a social media algorithm will define for you. 

So while we call them that, are these acquaintances really friends? And why is it progressively more challenging to build friendships and relationships that last. It's a vicious cycle of likes and algorithms altering who we see regularly, which then determines who we engage with digitally through comments and likes, emojis and filters, and who are then again etched in our short term memory. Have you been reminded of people on your friend list after years and IM'd them, connecting for a brief period of time to eventually have that dissolve in time? Do you still consider that person a friend or an acquaintance?

Point being, the crest and trough of the majority of our relationships now get defined by a social media network and the irony is that the social media networks were built to keep us connected to friends. So while some friends may be called family, are they even friends in the real sense? Care to share your thoughts?

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