Many people have hundreds of friends in their social network profiles, but the question is whether all these people on the list can actually be called friends. In his article, entitled “The Quagmire of Social Media Friendships,” Curtis Silver explores what the word “friend” means in the modern world. The author argues that social media has changed the way people understand friendship. Social media is responsible for the absence of close friends because it misuses the word “friend” and encourages people to replace their real lives with virtual ones.
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With the wide use of social media, the meaning of the word “friend” has become more shallow than it was before. Silver argues that, in the original meaning of the word, “a friend is someone who cares about you. Not just the fact that you exist, but the fact they contribute to your existence and the quality of your existence” (3). It means that friends are not just random people with whom one occasionally speaks or meets; instead, they are important people having a positive influence on one’s life. A friend is a person who can help out of a difficult situation and with whom one can share one’s joys and sorrows. However, a friend on social media is a different type of person. Frequently, people do not know those on their friend lists personally, and they may never meet them in real life. Silver points out that “anyone we don’t know on a personal level is nothing more than a stranger” (4). Thus, nowadays, people with long friend lists on social media may believe they have many friends, while, in fact, most of their friends are no more than strangers.
Social media contributes to the absence of close friends because it makes people replace their real lives with virtual ones. According to Silver, “social media is a stage and every single one of us is on our stage interacting with the crowd, which we are also in” (4). This quote suggests that, in social media, people behave as if they were celebrities. They share their photos, videos, and thoughts on their social media pages and expect that others will assess them. People on one’s friend lists are simply an audience for the content that one shares on one’s social media page. The problem with maintaining appearances in social media is that people have little time for building strong and meaningful relationships with friends in real life. People cannot pay equally great attention to real and virtual life, which is proved by the fact that “when you are buried in work or other physical interactions, your social media interactions decrease” (Silver 4). Therefore, by spending much time on social media, people replace their real lives with virtual ones and have difficulties maintaining a true friendship.
In conclusion, social media is the reason why people nowadays have fewer close friends than they had before. Social media has changed the meaning of the word “friend,” so now people can call friends those whom they do not even know personally. In addition, people spend much time sharing and assessing content on social media instead of building relationships in real life. They seem to be quite popular on their social media stage with an audience of hundreds of “friends.” However, people should think of whether any of these hundreds of “friends” will be there for them when they need a helping hand or a friendly piece of advice behind the social media stage.