Despite the fact that social media disconnects us from the real world, without it, you become excluded from everyone that does use it. Using social media to stay in touch with friends as a teenager can often make you feel included in a large community, in which you have many friends you can stay in touch with at the touch of a button. But what happens when you take a step back from social media? Do you find yourself even less connected to people, because they're suddenly out of reach? What happens when you can't even see them in a global pandemic?
Social Media Can Feel So Impersonal
For me, the sense of community on social media has become an illusion. Instead of forming genuine connections with people, friendships are often temporary, especially if the majority of the time spent together isn't in real life. Of course, it isn't a bad thing to want to interact with others online; it is possible to find friends who truly make you happy, especially if you have found those with similar interests, like on Twitter. Yet, on sites such as Instagram and Facebook, I've found that it is more common to focus less on the person you're interacting with, and more on the photos you post and the number of likes they generate. Ask yourself this: is this really the foundation you want your closest friendships to be formed on?
Maintaining Friendships Without Social Media In A Pandemic
Most people, especially in current situations, have been forced to rely on social media to keep in touch with friends, even if they didn't before. Without having the luxury of being able to meet up with them in person, you may find yourself growing distant from a lot of friends when you don't see them every day. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Sometimes school and other time-consuming things in life can cause friendships to lose the spark they once had in the beginning, which is essentially the ultimate test. So, how can you keep in touch with friends without social media and school which both allow you to see them daily?
If busy weekdays and schoolwork have gotten in the way of your friendship, that's okay! It's likely not one-sided. Message your friend and ask to schedule a phone call, or even a Face Time call. Video calls are great because they are so much more personal- you get to see the face that is connected to the voice you have not heard in so long. If your group of friends has become distant, why not suggest a group call?
Play Games With Audio Call
You don't need a video game console or a headset to play games with friends while you talk to them! Various apps are available on iPhone and Android, such as:
Houseparty, a way to hang out and party with friends from home. This app includes many fun games, while also giving you a place to chat and see each other.
Other games include: Words with Friends, Facebook games, Pubg, Fortnite, Uno & Friends, Snapchat games, iMessage games, Scrabble, and Pandemic: The Board Game. A popular game that has surfaced recently is Among Us, in which players take on one of two roles, most being Crewmates and a predetermined number being Impostors. If you want to talk to your friends while you play, you can create a discord group on another device.
Email Them Or Write A Letter
Emails or even a good old-fashioned letter can be so great to stay in touch with friends, because not only are they fun to write, but you focus more on what the other person actually has to say. They're more detailed and personalized and you'll find yourself exploring topics you may haven't had the chance to talk about in a while. Taking the time to write one can also provide you with an escape from stress, and so it can be therapeutic. If you want to get even more creative, you could send them a postcard!
A Socially Distanced Meet Up
Spending one to one time with a friend can really strengthen your bond. If you're able to in your location, ask them if they would like to go to the park or a café. Just make sure to stick to the guidelines and always wear masks. Activities can include walking your dog(s) while catching up, reading together, doing homework, play a sport together, or even going on a hike.
Accept That Growing Apart Is Okay
Growing up means change and that change can also include friendships. Friendships should be natural and spending time together should bring you happiness and peace. Sometimes extra effort must be made to ensure you give each other your time, but other times, it's okay to spend some time apart. Forcing friendships is unhealthy and it's often better to accept that 'Friends Forever' is not exactly realistic. Don't forget that finding new friends can be exciting too, even though it is daunting at first.
Choose What Is Best For You
Having a social media presence isn't always unhealthy, but being aware of the point when it becomes toxic is essential in maintaining your own happiness and well-being. Remember to take control of how much you use your platforms, instead of letting them control you. I've found that a friend who doesn't support your plan to leave isn't genuine, and you are always the priority. If you're struggling to decide whether to keep social media or not, consider limiting the amount of time you spend on it daily, or even trying to stay away from it temporarily. Finding what is best for you isn't an uncomplicated process but you will get there!