Friendships can develop online too

Mary Katreeb, Guest Columnist

It’s Wednesday morning and you get to your class a few minutes early. There are several other students in the room who don’t bother to look up when you walk in. You sit down and join in the fun. And by fun, I mean scrolling through your Twitter feed and liking celebrity Instagram posts. This is college, 2019 style.

The question I want you to think about today is, how many meaningful friendships have you made during your time at LMC? One? Five? Zero? Perhaps you might tell me that making friends is not your goal. You might say there is no benefit to making friends here because you plan to transfer soon. You might even point out that smartphones and social media aren’t stopping you from making friends in your classes. And that if you wanted to make friends, you would. So, I will start by telling you why making friends should be a goal of yours and why you will benefit from it. As my Kinesiology professor, Colleen Ralston, always said, “Your fellow students are your future colleagues.”  Make friends with people who share your major, you never know who you might come across later in your career. Now that you know why making friends is important, let’s talk about why social media could be hindering you from doing so. According to Roseb, constantly checking online leaves little time for our real-world relationships.

Still not convinced?

What if I told you that social media could be impacting not only your friendships but your romantic relationships? There is an association between high levels of problematic media use and demand-withdraw behavior in relationships. Demand-withdraw behavior is when there is a problem in a relationship that one person demands be fixed, while the other person tries to ignore it. We’ve all been there, right? Don’t think I’m telling you social media, using the Internet, or “screen time” as some like to call it, are bad. I was excited to read that the same article found healthy ways to use technology to enhance our relationships.

Togetherness. That is the key word in using technology in a positive way within your friendships and romantic relationships. Research has shown video games help people reduce their stress and relax. It was also found that playing video games with other people is a positive method of engagement within interpersonal relationships

So, play a video game with your significant other, laugh at cat videos with your best friend, share memes with your mom. But use media to connect with others instead of consuming it alone.

I’m going to tell you how to make friends. I’m sure you’ve heard many cliché ways of going about making friends so I want to share the tip I find most helpful, a little something they call DTT. This stands for Divulge to Them. Tell them something about yourself, perhaps with some self-deprecating humor. In my personal experience, there are two traits that people admire in others. They are confidence and vulnerability. Be confident enough to start a conversation. Then, be vulnerable enough to share something about yourself. Make it silly! I have the most fun with my friends that share my sense of humor.

I know it can be hard to break the habit of being on your phone all the time. It’s not only a cultural norm, it’s something many enjoy. However, I’m asking you to be a trendsetter. Get out of your comfort zone and into the friend zone.