How To Make A Lasting Connection With Your Online Friends
Back when I spent a semester abroad, a friend of mine said something that really stuck with me: "Relationships here have a shelf life."
She was, at that time, talking about her new international boyfriend and how she wasn't sure if their relationship could continue after she flies back home.
However, it made me think about all the relationships I've developed and friends I've made.
Every single person I've encountered in my life — from school, to work, to even the random group of people I befriended on Halloween — are all neatly listed on Facebook under my "friends" list.
Even though Facebook tells me that I'll be friends with all of them forever, what is the likelihood that I'll even see 90 percent of these people ever again?
Your online connections aren't always real.
With social media networks where you can "friend" anyone with the click of a button, it becomes easier and easier to connect with people we meet in real life.
These online connections give us a false sense of security that we will see these people again, whether or not we actually do.
Who isn't guilty of adding someone on Facebook, despite only speaking to him or her once at a party?
How many times have you accepted a friend request from a classmate even though the extent of your interaction was a glance from the other side of the room?
Most of the time, we don't do anything with these connections.
We collect friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter and Instagram and connections on LinkedIn like trophies.
You can have hundreds, even thousands, of friends and followers but only interact with a very small portion.
We often make the mistake of thinking of them as people whose lives we've touched, as opposed to thinking of them as people who have touched our lives. Admittedly, we're all a little narcissistic in that way.
Once the friend requests go through, we forget about them until we find some use for them.
I can't tell you how many times I've opened my Facebook feed to see people change their profile picture, but I have no clue who these people are or how I know them.
Even worse, when someone gets engaged or has a baby and I want to be happy for her, but I can't for the life of me remember how this person entered my life.
If I pass by these people in the streets, I probably wouldn't be able to tell that I genuinely knew them at one point.
Unfriending the people you can't remember seems like the right thing to do, but it just feels like too much of a cold and harsh deed. So, they remain on your friends list.
Then, the cycle of wondering who that person is begins when that same person shows up on your feed again a year.
It take mores than clicking a button to maintain a friendship.
Even though it seems like social media is making connecting with others easier, in reality, it sometimes makes it harder.
If you want a real connection, you'll have to make an impact. Be someone worth remembering by leaving a good impression on those who you want to remember you. Don't squander those precious face-to-face moments.
Let's be honest: With the internet and machines automating everything, actual human interaction is becoming rare.
The number of people we interact with on a daily basis is decreasing. If you work from home, you can go days without seeing another human being.
When meeting someone new (or even when interacting with an old friend) listen to the other person's story and share your own. There's always something that you can find in common.
At the same time, find out what makes the person unique. Making a real connection as opposed to having a superficial conversation will ensure that you remember the person and the person remembers you.
As sad and existential as it sounds, to simply live on as a memory, it is better than living on as just another friend, follower or connection.
The next time you meet a new person, be someone and not just another plus one.
This originally appeared on the author's personal blog.