Picture this: you’re scrolling through your social media feed, and the numbers of friends and followers keep soaring higher. Maybe you posted a TikTok vid that went viral, or an Instagram post that gained hundreds of likes. Either way, amidst the virtual sea of acquaintances, you realize a startling reality: these people who like and share your content are practically strangers, and most of your friends probably aren’t really your friends.
True friendship, the kind that offers unwavering support, understanding, and trust, has become increasingly elusive in today’s fast-paced, competitive, and social media-obsessed world. Genuine friends are rare and often challenging to find. But how can we nurture these authentic connections and differentiate them from fake friendships? Allow us to explain with these psychology-backed expert insights:
The Shallow World of Social Media
The rise of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have redefined our idea of “friendship” to include acquaintances and even strangers. It promotes quantity over quality, accumulating friends and followers for false popularity. We collect “friends” like trophies, merely amassing numbers without considering the depth of these relationships. We use it as an escape and present only the idealized versions of ourselves to the world, and as a result, most of the online “friends” we have become distant and detached from us, offering no true emotional support or understanding during times of need.
The Competitive Nature of Modern Society
Have you noticed that most people nowadays seem to prioritize personal success, achievements, and self-interests above all else? In such a fast-pased and competitive society, genuine connections often take a back seat. People are so engrossed in building their careers and pursuing their own goals that most relationships nowadays become transactional. That is to say that people nowadays tend to befriend others more for personal gain (e.g., networking) than a desire for authentic, meaningful friendships. Some environments also promote constant competition, such as in work or school, which fosters rivalry, comparison, and jealousy – all of which hinder us from making true friends.
The Fair-Weather Friends
Ever heard the saying, “When you’re up, your friends know who you are, but when you’re down, you know who your friends are”? Another reason why most of your friends aren’t really your friends is if they’re only fair-weather friends. Much like our earlier point, some people may only have befriended you because of what they can gain from you, such as your influence, popularity, wealth, or power. But when the going gets tough and you’re down on your luck, suddenly they’re nowhere to be found. Such so-called friendships lack depth and because they’re not built on anything meaningful, they can’t stand the test of time.
Cultivating Meaningful Connections
While coming to terms with this harsh reality might be disheartening at first, it’s important that we focus more on fostering authentic friendships moving forward. So here are some strategies to cultivate meaningful connections, according to experts:
- Be Genuine: Relationship therapists say that authenticity is the foundation of genuine friendships, so be true to yourself. Embrace vulnerability and show your true self to those you wish to connect with. Speak out about things that matter to you and find people who share your interests and passions.
- Invest Time and Effort: Building deep connections takes time and effort, so be patient. If you have people in your life right now who are true friends, then make more of an effort to spend time with them and be there for them.
- Supportive Listening: Be an active and empathetic listener. Offering a listening ear to your friends’ joys and struggles shows that you care and value their feelings. And doing so keeps your bond from becoming superficial and weakening over time.
- Let Go of Toxic Relationships: Did this video make you realize you have toxic or unfulfilling friendships? If so, then it’s time to let go of them and make room in your life for better, more enriching relationships. Surround yourself with people who uplift and inspire you, and reciprocate the same positive energy.
True friendships are a valuable asset in life, providing emotional support, understanding, and companionship. And while the realization that most of your friends might not be true friends can be hard to grapple with, it’s important to acknowledge this truth to foster more genuine connections with others. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, click here to watch our video on the “6 Types of Best Friends You Will Make in Your Life.”
So, Psych2Goers, what are your thoughts on this video? Did it emotionally resonate with you? Let us know in the comments down below! And don’t forget to like and subscribe, too, before you go. Thanks for watching!
- Ledbetter, A. M. (2016). Friendship and social media. The psychology of friendship, 93-108. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190222024.003.0006
- Johnson, T. & Sookdeo, T. (2022 Aug 10). 15 Signs of a Fake Friend. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/signs-of-a-fake-friend/
- Regan, S. (2021 Jun 30). How To Spot A Fake Friend & What To Do About It, From Experts. mbgrelationships. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/signs-of-fake-friends
- Van Zalk, N. & Monks, C. P. (2020 Mar 25). What friendships really look like these days. The British Psychological Society. https://www.bps.org.uk/psychologist/what-friendships-really-look-these-days
- Good Therapy. (2019 Jun 03). Friendship. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/friendship