Social Media Friendships Might Be More Special Than We Realize

At Grotto Network, Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

When distorted by hyper-individualism, being authentic can become associated with things that are superficial and ephemeral, behavior and preferences that are unrelated to who a person is at their core — their deepest values and the unique position that each occupies in the world of persons. A distorted sense of authenticity might inspire one to create a distinct social media identity that is closely linked to a particular lifestyle, mood, or look that the person values, but that only reflects a fraction of the person’s everyday life. Genuine authenticity is more likely to impede the construction of this separate identity and narrow picture of reality.

My friend’s feed was not filled with staged shots, skinny arm, and an endless parade of good news. It looked like real life. There were countless cute photos of her darling daughter, but these included ones where her daughter was sick or causing trouble, like little explorers so often do, or disrupting her work. She was very active on social media and her feed was fun, but we got to see a mom who got tired or had a new mess to clean up or could laugh at a slightly awkward moment. I saw a real person, a real family, and it created a sense of connection.

Bonds of solidarity often grow through shared experiences — and the joys, struggles, and sheer hilarity that often accompany parenthood are well-suited for creating such bonds. But in an increasingly atomized society, where intermediary institutions are crumbling and countless forces are fostering a (sometimes involuntary) lived individualism, strong bonds of friendships and solidarity are more difficult to realize and sustain…

as we consider the limits (and disastrous ills) of social media, we should not ignore the ways it can enrich our lives if used wisely…

Sometimes that means having the opportunity to follow the lives of our loved ones across the country more closely and to share more in their everyday experiences. But it can also mean developing a greater sense of connection and solidarity to more casual friends — the depths of which may not be known until an acute moment of joy or sorrow reveals how much we care.