The internet is a valuable tool for someone like me, especially for the purpose of social platforming. I can’t do much socializing in real life. Whether the environment is too loud for me to be heard, the venue is inaccessible, or the activity is something that I physically can’t partake in, there’s almost always something to ruin this part of life for me.
Consequently, I don’t meet a lot of people, which is why I turn to places like Facebook for a social outlet. While social media has certainly enriched my life overall, it is becoming increasingly clear to me that it is a double-edged sword. Nothing online — or more accurately, no one — can replace a face-to-face interaction.
On the downside, some people are not who they present themselves to be. I was in a long-distance relationship with a girl (emphasis on long — she was over 2,000 miles away). It seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, what other options did I have? Though it was wonderful while it lasted, it ended poorly, mysteriously, and quickly. She disappeared in a flash for two and a half years. When we finally reconnected, she said something prevented her from contacting me. That didn’t pass the sniff test, so needless to say, I don’t plan to sign up for anything like that again.
Another downside to social media is the lack of accountability. People hiding behind relative anonymity are emboldened to say things they’d never say in person. Either they feel free to express without social constraint the unkind or violent thoughts they really believe, or they’re just playing the troll. I don’t really care what the reason is. I’m blocking them and moving on to greener pastures.
On the upside, I have met people who I believe will be lifelong friends. I talk sports with my buddy Paul almost every day. He is even planning to make a trip from his home in Cincinnati to Oregon in 2020. His Ohio State Buckeyes come to Eugene to play a football game against my Ducks at that time.
Still, as good as that is, I’ve learned that even the truly great individuals I have met online can only play a limited role in my life. In the end, they are little more than names on a screen until, and if, we meet face-to-face.
Pondering these realizations makes me that much more thankful for the incredible true friends I do have. I have been fortunate enough to have three of them. Even though I am limited in terms of social experiences, I am going to be more intentional about meeting friends and even girls the old fashioned way.
What have you done to make friendships in “real life”? Join the discussion at the SMA News Today forums.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.