Are you hiding behind your online avatar pretending to do life? Who really knows you? Despite the proliferation of social media, digital connections, and the means of communicating via FaceTime, Zoom, text, phone, email, and a letter, do you truly have friendships?
Facebook friends are fake friends. Hiding behind our Facebook profile has become an art form but not necessarily a form of friendship. These one-way communication postures allow us to talk but not be challenged.
I’ve often said that one of our greatest fears is the fear of being known for who we really are and what we’re really thinking. These “unmentionable secrets” create strongholds of deception that undermine our confidence or cause us not to act. Confession is a sacramental exercise for good reason. It frees the soul to be right with God, self, and others.
When no one really knows us, we can be so lost and alone in the midst of our solo tribe. Adding more “friends” becomes an unfulfilling addiction in our search for identity, connection, and meaning. Friends draw us out when we’re withdrawn and lift us up when we’re down. And we do the same for them. There’s give, but no take. There’s no accounts but plenty of deposits.
Perhaps you aren’t even aware there is a different way.
- Has the quantity of your connections become your measure of the meaning of your life?
- Do popularity and followers define your worth and character?
- Have the online hours spent building your network left you busily distracted, desperately lonely, and lacking? Is something still missing?
Consider this, however: a true friend knows what doesn’t get posted on social media or knows it before it gets posted.
Try an experiment this week: Make fewer new connections and have more conversations with a handful of people whom you love or truly would like to know better. Instead of focusing on your burgeoning network, try investing in going deeper with the relationships you do have.
Begin by writing down the names of 2 people whom you identify as worthy of becoming a better friend.
- Call them and tell them what you’re up to in terms of deepening the friendship.
- Get together with them.
- Grab a cup of coffee; invest yourself in what’s happening in their life.
- Learn to listen and ask the deeper, more penetrating questions.
Instead of staying on the edge of life and activities, discover what they learned, how they felt, what concerns them, what gives them joy, and so forth. Laugh, cry, reflect, and just do life together.
Challenge yourself to add at least one true confidant to your life over the coming weeks and months.
Your reward may be a lifelong friend.
When we have friends, we can be apart from people, but not alone. Keyboards can masterfully sustain and keep true friends connected through time and distances. Having friends to talk things through, to be in the flow of one another’s lives with context and concern—now that can make all the difference!
Take a hard look around and see who is truly there standing with you. As importantly, are you at risk of being off-purpose and there’s no one there beside you to call you to task because you’re caught in the swirl of social media?
“Americans’ circle of confidants has shrunk dramatically in the past two decades and the number of people who say they have no one with whom to discuss important matters has more than doubled, according to a new study by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona.”