By Darren Casserly
This last year has led to a rise in social media use and for a lot of people they have made more connections through social media. Everyone knows to be at least somewhat weary of calling people you don’t know offline a friend, but this has changed in the pandemic. When all you can only talk to your friends online, the distinction between your ‘real’ friends and online ones blur.
While it can be said that you don’t really know your ‘real’ friends, you have a better understanding of them by comparison to the ones you only know online. There have been countless studies which show that social media is addictive and has a negative effect on mental health. Personally, I would feel more isolated without it over the course of the last year, but it is something that I have used too much, there really isn’t much more to do now. Social media has been great for this last year in particular when there wasn’t much to do but, it can be just awful, particularly Twitter and it is just what happens when people think they have their identity hidden even when it’s not. There definitely is a sense that there are a huge number of people whose online personality and their ‘real’ personality are completely different, and, in most cases, the online personality is closer to the truth.
This was an issue that has been talked about for years, ever since people had hundreds of ‘friends’ on Facebook. It really has not changed that much since it’s just that the platforms have changed and it’s all about mutuals and for some people about trying to find a community in a year where people are feeling more isolated than ever. Knowing what kind of people they are in that community when you don’t share that much is hard. Of course, the same could be said for these same kinds of people in person also, it just is easier to create a more tailored persona online as people see and hear less of you.
Don’t get this wrong, I am sure that there are people who have made plenty of online friends who would actually be better ones than those that they made in person. But the fact remains, there should still be a level of weariness around people that you meet online. It is a different form of friendship and you should be really sure of a person before you should call them a friend.