Technology has made it possible to connect with more people than at any other time in history. Still, these Facebook-type relationships are mostly shallow. Texting, social networking and other social media have made it seem possible to maintain a friendship without being in someone’s presence. However, the million-dollar question is: What must one do to enjoy enduring and meaningful friendships?
Four secrets might be to:
Define real friendship. Start by writing down three qualities that you would want a friend to have. Then write down three qualities that you bring to a friendship. Ask yourself: “Which of my online contacts display the qualities that I value in a friend? Which qualities would those friends say I bring to the friendship?”
Establish priorities. Online friendships are often based on a shared interest, such as a hobby. However, having common values is more important than having similar interests.
Get out and meet people. There is nothing quite the same as face-to-face conversation, where you and another person can experience the subtle nuances of voice tone, facial expression and body language.
Write a letter or send a card. Old-fashioned as it may seem, letter writing sends the message that you care enough about someone to give him or her your undivided attention. That kind of focus is rare in today’s multitasking world.
Real friendship involves more than just keeping in touch. It requires that you and your friend display love, empathy, patience and forgiveness. Those qualities ultimately make a friendship rewarding, but they are difficult to display when you only talk online.