I have become a fan of Facebook. Much to my surprise I like the light and often thought-provoking, cyber banter. I learn new things and think about familiar things differently thanks to the different perspectives that show up there. I’ve reconnected with old friends and even developed some solid, real-life, even-met-in-person friendships on-line.
But this week, I’m thinking about how good it will feel to connect with my mom for a real-live hug over the holiday weekend; how fun it will be to spend some time with friends.
When I really want to reach out and connect, Facebook is no subsitute. Instead, I have a couple of go-to gals that I call or meet with in person. Those real-life connections are a key aspect of health and well-being. The immune systems of people with even one close friend function more efficiently and people with a strong support group are less likely to suffer from depression. It’s on you to make those lasting and powerful connections and there are plenty of ways to do it, as I’ve mentioned here.
Social networking sites can be a great way to stave off loneliness, but don’t let them become the only way. With the prominence of interactive sites, researchers wondered if we are becoming more reclusive when it comes to real life relationships.
We’re not – at least not yet. In a recent study out of Cornell University sociologist Matthew Brashears found that while most people average about 130 Facebook friends, most people have around two close confidantes, down from three reported 25 years ago.
Still there doesn’t seem to be any growing sense of individual isolation since that is roughly the same figure as recorded by researchers in 2004.
People, are, however becoming socially shyer and the numbers of people who report experiencing social anxiety is increasing because we are simply out of practice. I see it in myself. I’m more of an introvert than extrovert so an e-mail or text to even my closest friends suits me better than picking up the phone. But, sometimes, say after the 12th text, all efficiency is lost. Talking, sharing, interacting face-to-face is not only an efficient way to go, but it’s a healthier one.
Nothing can substitute for a chilled glass of wine, a big laugh, a strong hug, with a good friend. When we do reach out and foster those real-world social connections we feel better, often the feel-good hormone oxytocin runs around our systems amping up warm feelings and that can energize and revitalize us. So make sure you foster the real-world friendships. With just two close confidantes we need to make sure we take care of the friends we’ve got.
Wednesday, I’ll give you a tip on how to do this – and it will surprise you
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