Reclaiming Friendship in the Social Media Age

The Gospel Coalition | 5/16/2019 | Staff
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Augustine once wrote that there are two things essential to existence in this world: life and friendship. Yet, as Drew Hunter insightfully points out in his book on friendship, “Friendship is, for many of us, one of the most important but least thought about aspects of life.” Most people feel the tension of knowing friendship is valuable while living as though it isn’t.

Social media hasn’t helped.

Friends - Colleagues - Acquaintances - World - Variety

Sure, it’s nice to keep up with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, new and old, from all over the world. It’s nice to learn from a wide variety of voices and countless resources that fill our feeds. But social media is also distorting our view of friendship.

As we scroll through our feeds, full of pictures and updates from hundreds of people we haven’t talked to in years, we rightly ask, “Are these people really my friends?”

Paradox - Media - People - Anyone

The paradox of social media is that we know many people while not feeling known by anyone.

Stephen Marche captures this well: “It’s a lonely business, wandering the labyrinths of our friends’ and pseudo-friends’ projected identities, trying to figure out what part of ourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear.”

Cigna - Study - People - Loneliness - People

A 2018 Cigna study found that people aged 18 to 22 experienced loneliness significantly more than people 72 and older. That is not a coincidence. In a recent University of Pennsylvania study, psychologist Melissa G. Hunt concluded that there is an inevitable link between loneliness and social media use by 18- to 22-year-olds.

“It is a little ironic that reducing your use of social media actually makes you feel less lonely,” she says. “Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness.”

Media - Connectedness - Isolation

Social media promises social connectedness, but it often delivers social isolation.

Social media promises social connectedness, but it often delivers...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Gospel Coalition
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