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31st January 2019

Five hundred friends and no-one to talk to

It is no mystery that social media has shaped the way we interact. However, new studies have found that online platforms are contributing to relationships becoming increasingly superficial
Five hundred friends and no-one to talk to
Photo: magicatwork @ Flickr

Over fifty percent of people say they do not need to see friends regularly because of social media. The campaign Time for Change has released new data suggesting that face to face friendships are on the decline. In an era where one in four people suffer from mental health problems, social media may be inhibiting the development of vital relationships.

Social media platforms boast their ability to create connections between people. They design spaces where we can both receive and give out information about ourselves to anyone. Indeed, many relationships are formed across networking platforms. The rise of dating apps such as Tinder show an increasing desire to start online relationships. The success of these platforms is their convenience. You can receive instant updates about your friends and family, and feel you need never ask how they are. However, social media may be having a negative impact on our real-life relationships.

Recent light has been shed on the false nature of sites such as Instagram, where people present a rose-tinted version of their lives. By only ever showing the highlights, people fail to remember the reality of the lives behind the screen. According to Time to Change, 1 in 5 people feel they could not speak to any one they have a social media connection to about their mental health. It seems that where people use to have fewer, closer friends, they now have more friends who know less about them.

Friendships are being reduced to likes, shares and mentions. Most people only frequently interact with friends via social media, meaning that the depth of their conversations is minimal. A look into group chats revealed that they encourage surface-level conversation. It appears that for all the sharing we do on social media, there is no designated space for serious talk.

Time For Change is calling for a better use of social media. It encourages people to use social platforms to arrange face to face meetings. More than half of adults only use social media to like or comment on friends’ posts. Time to Change argues that social media can enhance our social interactions if used correctly. Instead of only interacting via Facebook, you can use social media to discover events near you. The breadth of information available online concerning events and activities could contribute to a more fulfilling social life.

These new statistics run in conjunction with the launch of Time to Talk Day on 7th February. Time to Talk Day is an awareness campaign which seeks to raise awareness of mental health and the benefits of talking about it. Celebrities such as Fern Cotton and brands like PG tips work in conjunction with the UK-wide event, which is now in its sixth year.

You can find out more about Time to Talk Day at:

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