Picture from the Inquisitor
I love Social Media and technology because it helps us connect with loved ones all around the world and experience community with those we see every day as well as friends we have never seen face to face. But that connection also has a huge impact on our relationships with other people. It used to be that when i called someone their friend it meant that they; used to sleep over at my house as kids, played baseball with me during the summer, encouraged me after breaking up with my first girl friend, faced the horrors of the Freshman year of college with me, sat at the party table as we had the hour and a half lunch (with twenty minutes spent eating), and well you get the picture.
Today a friend can mean someone who chats with me on Facebook, likes my posts, and sometimes leaves a comment or retweets one of my messages on twitter. This redefining of friend isn’t really frightening, the scary part is when most of our friends are found on the computer instead of face to face relationships.
Now please don’t think I am being judgmental because I am actually working out of the Social Media Social Life. Trust me I understand that its easier to sit in front of the TV and chat on Facebook while watching a movie while eating popcorn than hang out with other people. It’s comfortable because there is absolutely no way of embarrassing yourself; for instance the television doesn’t laugh when you say something stupid or make a mistake, you will never suffer rejection from the dvd player, and just try to have one of those awkward silence moments with a PS3.
Here’s the thing though, as a person who used Social Media as his social life I can honestly tell you it doesn’t work. There is a definite need for relationships that involve conversation and dialogue, of course I am writing from the viewpoint of a single man those of you who are married may dream of a night watching television and eating popcorn! For those of you who like me want to log off and get out the door here a few first steps.
1. Connect with a Facebook Friend offline: This is a good first step because you already have a pretty good relationship with the Facebook Friends so find an activity you both enjoy and do something together. This is good
2. Go to the local hang out: I don’t care where you live there is always going to be a “night life” in your community, even if it is hanging out in the McDonalds parking lot. I know it seems really simple but a great way to make friends is to just go where the people are.
3. Join a Gym: This is one of those high risk high reward social ventures. Yes you may embarrass yourself but a gym is one of the best places to make new friends, particularly if your on a treadmill or other cardio equipment because talking to people makes the time pass by quickly and their not going anywhere right?
Working out on the weight machines can lead to friendships too, just learn to say “bro” and “how many more sets do you have?” a lot and always have a protein shake in your hand.
4. Have Friends Over: So there is absolutely no way you can leave your “fortress of solitude” and meet new people? No problem, invite your friends to come over to hang out, play video games, and watch a movie.
5. Take a Fitness Class Yes I know you already work out at the gym but the fitness classes are some of the best bonding opportunities in the world. They may feel like torture at first but survive the first month and you and the remaining members will be like a band of brothers
6. Evening Classes: Yes I know when most of us think evening classes are boring but quite at local universities or community colleges cover things you would find interesting such as writing, art, or music. This is a great opportunity to connect with other people who are passionate about the same things you are.
7. Learn to Love Coffee: Now this may just be because I am in Australia where coffee is our national drink and there is a cafe on every corner but sitting down a having a “cuppa” (cup of coffee or tea and having a long conversation) is a really fun way to get to know other people. This is probably best for people you already feel comfortable with to avoid the awkward “so what do you want to talk about” conversation.
8. Become Part of the In Crowd: Okay your now officially ready to tackle the holy grail of social interaction. We all have that friend who knows everybody and loves having parties or other activities at their house which everyone is invited to, but the really fun events are reserved for the inner circle friends (by invitation only).
Becoming part of the inner circle may take some time but if you get involved in any of the activities or parties they are having even if there is a high possibility of embarrassment and make sure to mingle with people. Faithfully attend these and soon you will have one of the sought after “are you doing anything tonight texts” which is your initiation into the inner circle. Feel free to frame that text and put it beside the lounge, oh and make sure to spend a few nights just watching tv and surfing the internet, you earned it.