Does the Internet bring us closer?

This is something I’ve wondered about. I’m off two minds on this.

Yes

Through Facebook, Twitter, email, etc I am a lot more connected with people who I would not. Friends from the school’s I went to in three different states, family,  all are on Facebook. And I don’t have a huge friend list, right around 200 (unlike some people with 1000+).  People share things on there, and I am able to know what’s going on in their lives. Big stuff like when people have babies or get new jobs, to mundane stuff like when people are having car trouble. I interact regularly with only a small subset, but even the ones I don’t, I can catch up with them pretty easily.

Without the internet, when I moved from Florida in ’97, I would have lost contact with all of my childhood friends. Instead, I’m still in touch. Haven’t seen them in years (met back up with a few in college) but I still have a connection.

I’ve also made a whole host of new friends. Through gaming, I have a set of friends who I’ve never met in real life, but interact with on a daily basis. In many ways, I’m closer to them than people I knew face to face as a child, because we hang out in games. And with voice chat, it’s very close to reality. I never would have met these people in real life since they live all over the country and the world.

No

The flip side to it being easy to keep up to date with people, is that you don’t put any effort into it. My two best friends in high school, I still talk to through text and Facebook, and occasionally on the phone, but haven’t seen in years. We rarely have genuine conversations, but don’t know roughly what’s going on in each others lives. One of them, only lives a few hours away in Dallas. In the six years I’ve been in Houston, I’ve seen her maybe twice. Once was for her wedding. As for my other friend, he’s in Chicago, so much further away, but I’ve only seen him twice as well, once was at the same wedding.

Do we make less of an effort to see, talk to and really visit with friends because the superficial interaction of the internet feels like genuine interaction? If I didn’t get constant Facebook status updates from my close friends, would I have traveled to Dallas or Chicago more often?

Or would we still have only seen and talked to each other the same amount? It’s not cheap or easy to see people that live hours or states away. You can make a concerted effort to do so, but it takes a concerted effort. Usually, life gets in the way.

The final answer is I don’t know. In some ways, I feel like I am missing out on a more genuine connection with some of my oldest friends. In other ways, the internet allows me to stay in touch easier and more frequently. What do you think?

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2 Responses to Does the Internet bring us closer?

  1. Coleen says:

    I think it allows us to stay connected with people we never would have. It recently allowed me to see my college roommate who I hadn’t seen in 10 years because I found out she was coming to Florida and we arranged to meet for dinner. Without facebook I would never had know that.

  2. Tamarynn says:

    I have to go with no. While it does keep us connected to people, it doesn’t keep us close. There is a lot of informality, distance, and a ton of bs, but it doesn’t deliver the closeness you share with good friends or family.

    Yes, you can keep up to date with goings on, but even a phone call has much more feeling attached to it. It is one of the reasons why I refuse to use social media. People forget how to interact with each other because it is easier on the net. I saw a family playing Words With Friends with each other, on their phones, in the same room. Recently there was some kid that got in a fatal car accident because he was texting his girlfriend who was in the passenger seat.

    Don’t get me wrong, the internet is a good means for quick updates or checking in, but it doesn’t share the closeness that physical interaction does.