By Dannie Sullivan
Scrolling through my homepage, I see the new baby they’ve had, the new apartment she’s living in and his new car. I can see all of the new places they’ve visited, moved to and pinned to their board in hopes that they’ll make it there one day. Pictures are definitely worth 1,000 words but that’s easy when we’re not saying anything to one another.
We continually “repin”and “tweet”our life events, but what has happened to that friendship we built? Why did the communication stop? Whose fault is it?
As a traveler, social media is a blessing! After meeting friends from every corner of the world I can’t even imagine how hard it would’ve been 50 or even 15 years ago to keep in contact with one another. Snail mail? Long distance phone calls? Pigeon carriers? Now that we have What’s App, Facebook and gChat we can keep in touch as long as there is a Wifi connection nearby. But are we really staying in touch?
With these apps and programs come stickers, emoticons and “like”buttons. While our lives have become more mobile and fast paced, these features are necessary. We don’t have time to write individual comments on each picture or status. But are we really keeping in touch?
I’ve made great friends while here and while traveling before in Europe. We all say, “I’ll see you at some point again,”“I’m sure our paths will cross again,”or “Keep in touch!”
But a few days pass, a week or two goes by until we ask how things have been. We laugh about our trip together and share stories about how things are back at home. Then it slowly fizzles out. We “like”and “share”posts and browse through photos smiling and remembering the memories we made. But we won’t be meeting up for dinner anymore. No more beers at the local pub and no weekend trips to look forward to.
Over time we stop messaging and start “stalking”without realizing. Months or years go by with no communication, yet we flip through pictures and check their page for updates on life. We silently sit on the sideline, assuming we are still in the loop and know everything that is going on in their life because of these notifications. But are we still actually friends?
Are we really staying in touch? I’m not sure. I think we’ve gotten lazy with how we keep in contact. We hit buttons that pre-determine our overall satisfaction of something, but most of the like, share no real thoughts or opinions on the matter.
We’re more up to date on their daily life than we would have been through monthly letters, but where is the emotion, the feeling, the real friendship that you took time to build? You don’t talk the way you used to but there’s also less of a yearning to reach out directly now that you can see everything they’re doing hundreds of miles away.
It’s not that we don’t care, it’s just the routine we slip into when we leave each other’s side. It’s no one’s fault, it’s just how things are done in our technological generation. That window of opportunity to communicate has opened greatly the last few years, but our motivation to climb through it and reach out to someone has diminished to an extent.
Now that I’m leaving, I know that there are some people I will never see again and the chances of our whole group being together at the same time again are slim to none. But I do know that I don’t want to just cyber stalk them for the rest of my life. I want to know what they’re up to, what they’re plans are, and how life is going for them. I want to talk, not just assume something from a picture I see. I…we…need to make more of an effort to be friends and not just accept Facebook’s definition of it.
Dannie got on her first plane to Canada at the tender age of nine months and since then she hasn’t stopped. She currently lives in Thailand where she works as an ESL teacher and gets her travel fix on the weekends. Her most recent escapades can be found on her blog, Eat Well, Travel Often. Dannie also contributes monthly to the popular NYC fashion blog, Merci New York.