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Keeping Friendships Alive - Connection beyond Facebook Updates

By Megan Blandford - 11th January 2012

In a way I talk to my friends more than ever: Facebook, Twitter, text messages and email mean it’s easy to communicate with them. I can show all my friends what’s happening in my life with a quick status update and a photo, and they can do the same. I can show them I’m thinking of them by writing on their wall or ‘liking’ their status.

We get to know the facts of each other’s lives: we know that today this friend was stuck in traffic on the way to work. Another saw her baby take his first steps, and someone else went to a party on the weekend.

But sometimes knowing these facts feels lonelier than ever. We think we’re in touch with our friends via these communications, but we’re not. Not really. Most of us won’t update our status with our inner thoughts, or say ridiculous things just for a giggle in the spur of the moment – like we do when we catch up with our girlfriends.

Nothing replaces a good old chat with a friend.

When I catch up with friends – whether it’s an old friend from school, my sister, or a friend who lives down the road – we rarely go into the facts. We talk about everything, and nothing at the same time. We’ll talk about what’s bothering us, what’s great in our lives, and we’ll laugh at silly things that no one else would find funny.

A real catch up is beyond seeing a smiling face in an online photo, or knowing that this person did some gardening today – it’s about reaching beyond those facts to what’s really inside. It’s seeing in someone’s eyes and being reassured that they’ll listen and understand, it’s sharing things that are known just to the two of you.

As a parent, making the time for a face-to-face catch up is more important than ever before. It can help us not to feel quite so isolated and even sets a great example for our kids, leading by example in how to interact with others outside our family unit.

Catching up with friends ‘in real life’ is so satisfying and so fun, so vital – and yet we forget to do it in the busyness of life.

My challenge to you is to leave social media behind today. I dare you to pick up the phone and chat to a friend, or just drop by their house and pay them a surprise visit. I guarantee you’ll feel refreshed and enriched by doing that one simple thing.

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