Does technology make us more alone?
Just fifteen years ago, the word “friend” meant something different than what it means today. Usually, we consider a friend someone who is part of our life, someone who we trust and who trusts us. You can always call a friend when you need help and they will be there for you. Simply put, a friend is like an unrelated family member
Nowadays, however, with the creation of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and many others, the term “friend” has gotten an additional meaning. There are many people who have more than 1000 internet friends, but those friends are not like the friends in the old days. To befriend someone, you just need to ask them to accept your friend request and maybe talk to them once. It’s even easier if you are part of the same online group or you play the same game because you don’t even need to exchange words. You may never speak with such friends again or ever meet them in real life.
So, does it mean that by having so many internet friends we actually have no real friends? Has the new technology tricked us into believing that we are popular but in reality we are lonely?
Although it may lead us to think that we have more friends than we really do, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t have any true friends. There was a joke going around some time ago about how you can find out who of your internet friends is your real friend. The joke says that you should write a private message to all of your internet friends saying “I killed a man. Please help me dispose of the body”. The one who answers something like “I’m on my way” is your real friend.
The point of this joke was to try to relate the old associations with the term “friend” with the new associations of the term “internet friend”. Unfortunately, this project failed, but what hasn’t changed is the fact that no matter whether we have a million internet friends or none at all, there are people who are our friends in real life. It seems that this illusion of having a million internet friends is not meant to trick us, but instead make other people believe that we are a good person who is worthy of their friendship since we already have so many friends.
We can conclude that technology hasn’t changed the essence of friendship and it doesn’t make us more alone by itself. In fact, technology makes it easier for us to find new friends and keep in touch with our old friends when the distance becomes a problem.