Editorial: (E-friends or E-llusion). Can E-Friends Really Take the Place Of Physical Ones?

It is the trending thing these days to see people logging on to their various social media platforms so they can electronically connect with friends. The world has never been so interconnected. Although some experts agree that the internet improves social relations, and also helps to reduce cost of communication and will continue to do so over the years, psychologists have however and are still arguing that social media sites don’t deepen relationships but rather, they are beginning to question the effects on the internet in the society.
New studies indicate that the electronic super interconnections of our lives today comes at a risk which includes the death of real friendships and conversations, loss of privacy and increase in intolerance. The study indicates that even though social media applications like Facebook, WhatsApp, twitter, email etc all have their place, they do not substitute for conversation no matter how valuable. Instead of people walking together with their heads up, looking at one another and engaging in intimate real conversations, people now walk with their heads down, typing on tiny keyboard or screens. Even when they are with families, colleagues, friends, in the bus, office, on campus, everyone is always busy with his/her device; hooking up to artificial e-friendships, relationships and conversations thereby shutting themselves more away from the original versions in their physical environment.
In his book “The Effect of technology on relationships: The risk of internet addiction”, Dr Alex Lickerman states that we may enjoy online relationships via social media sites, but spending too much time trying to electronically connect and communicate with others could engender a greater sense of social isolation than triggered it in the first place. “The problems usually come when we find ourselves subtly substituting electronic relationships for physical ones or mistaking our electronic relationships for physical ones” he further stressed. So when people are alone, even for a few moments, they fidget and reach for their device. Therefore connection work like an addiction not a cure and our constant, reflexive impulse to connect shapes a new way of being.
In order to feel more like ourselves and escape loneliness, we connect to the web on our devices, turn to other people on the internet that we barely knows, to feel the void, but don’t experience them like our real, intimate friends that we physically interact with and trust. It is as though we use our e-friends, needing them as spare parts to support our increasingly delicate selves.
These days, social media continue to ask: ‘What’s on your mind?’ but we however have little or no motivation to say something truly self-reflective unlike we would when we are in a conversation with our physical friends because it is hard to actually do anything with over 1000 ‘friends’, except just to connect.
 What are your thoughts? Do you agree or not? Share your views
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