I believe that although technology has enabled us to much more easily create connections and to stay in touch, the capacity for instant connectedness does not automatically translate into real relationships. True relationships still take time as well as emotional and intellectual effort to grow and develop.
We’re connecting with more people every day through e-mail and cell phones and by social networks like Facebook or Myspace or Stayfriends on the internet. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that this ability to connect instantly over great distances does not automatically deepen relationships, but, in fact, may endanger them.
Our connections grow by the minute, but our real relationships indeed are becoming more scarce, often leaving us feeling even more alone, more anonymous. Despite the convenience of modern technology, real relationships still take time and mutual respect and shared understanding. They require desire, openness and the ability to listen and to communicate.
My dear friend Claudia and I have known each other for 30-something years—since our late teens. Our friendship began in teenage angst as we both were searching for truth and honesty, an intellectual challenge, and, most of all, communication and companionship as we navigated the rough waters of growing up. Neither of us was popular, nor did we have the desire for it. We found in each other an able sparring partner, with whom we could connect, exchange ideas, to come to new understanding—To this day our friendship continues, and and though we only occasionally connect, the connection is still a source of delight.
I think our friendship survived also because we took our own separate paths early on. After high school I went on to study computers in our hometown and Claudia studied medicine in another town, following a career path, which led her to many different places. Once in a long while we met for a weekend here, a short visit there, but we never really required the other’s physical presence to grow our friendship.
In fact, it may be that being apart increased the depth of our relationship since it forced more self- reflection and conscious communication. That effort became a distilling of our relationship into an essence that we shared when we met or communicated, and intensified our being together, on a rare weekend, or across cyberspace.
Where I come from, there is a saying: “…to become friends, you have to eat a barrel of salt together”. To eat a barrel of salt, takes time, a great long time. 21st century communication technology make s connecting a lot easier, but real relationships still need the commitment of hearts and souls. It is my belief and my experience that to become friends, even today, we still must eat our barrel of salt together.
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