On my birthday this year I attended an event with Simon Sinek. During the Q&A, someone asked how do you create better relationships with the people around you? To her, it seemed like all the work she puts into relationships goes to waste, because she didn’t feel a connection to her friends.
I understand that better than anyone else, because:
- At 17, I left Romania and moved to Denmark – new world, new language, new friends
- One year later, I returned to Romania – new school, new friends, new sports team
- In 2010, I left for Denmark again – there, I moved two times; new friends each time, new cities, new workplaces
- Last year, I moved to London – new world, new friends, new country.
There’s a common pattern between my roaming around: I always start from zero relationships. I never take any friends or family with me. This is why I’ve always used social media to keep in touch with the people I care about. And this is exactly the problem. Through social media it’s difficult to create high-quality, lasting relationships that are based on anything else than the occasional like and share. Creating relationships with people is about communication, being together, and caring for each other. When you follow each other on Facebook, although it seems so, none of that happens.
So why get rid of Facebook?
Few Facebook friendships are real. True relationships are the ones when you call each other on a Sunday to grab a late dinner. It’s when you text someone to ask for help and advice. It’s when people meet and are genuinely interested in each other — you’re eating out and leave your phone in the jacket, not on the table. It’s when you care for each other. It’s when interactions are much more than just a like or a follow.
It baffles me how social media brings the world together, yet we feel further apart than ever before. If you find your relationships are not fulfilling, know that you’re not the only one. We’re all there, because it’s difficult to get quality time with people.
We have this false feeling that we know what’s going on in each other’s lives. We ignore that social media is not entirely honest. It is only the highlight reel; curated bits and pieces of daily living — people’s perfect marriages and perfect kids and perfect careers. If it would all be so perfect, suicide rates among teenagers wouldn’t be so high. Social media keeps us apart because it gives us the feeling of being together. No wonder people don’t feel they have any friends in this big world.
Dating is no different. We don’t go out to bars and clubs and talk to each other anymore. Everything is on our phones; and it only takes a swipe. It is convenient, but rarely can you build quality relationships with people through a screen.
If you want to find your friends again, try something else. If social media doesn’t work for you (it doesn’t, for most of us), get off it. Ask your friends out for a meal once a month. Go on holiday with one of them. Throw a party and make big talk. Call your friends instead of texting. If you don’t want to call them, send voice messages over iMessage. It works nicely for me because my friends can hear my voice. And this also encourages them to send a voice message back. It’s like calling each other, only on your own terms and when you have time.
Building long-standing relationships takes time; months, maybe years. And because most people don’t understand the effects social media has on their relationships, you’re going to have to work double shifts. You need to put more effort into it. But if true, meaningful, quality relationships are a thing that you want more of in your life, you need to work for it. There’s no shortcut around it; definitely not one involving Tiktok and Snapchat.