Social media and relationships: Valuing the relationships that matter most

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The last time I saw all my friends from high school, we promised each other we’d stay in contact: FaceTime every other week, keep each other updated with all the funny memes we saw and – of course – text. Every. Single. Day. Maybe I knew some of this wasn’t true, but I ultimately didn’t hold my friends accountable to keeping in touch, and we’ve now become so distant that we’ve stopped talking altogether.  

Now, this isn’t to say that I’ve lost contact with all of my friends; there are two that I speak with quite frequently and one that I Snapchat almost every day. But many of the relationships I thought I held so dear have evaporated in front of my eyes. Maybe that’s on me, and maybe it’s also on them, but that doesn’t change the fact that some of my friendships have vanished. But my question is: Why? Why do we make these promises to keep in contact if, in some ways, we have no intention of continuing these relationships? And is it really just our relationships with our friends that suffer? 

I know that there were friends I had in high school whom I had no intention of keeping when I left for college. And that may sound heartless, but there were pieces of my life in Ohio that I wanted to leave in Ohio. I came to college to grow as a person and find my forever friends, my chosen family. I didn’t want to take some relationships to college if I didn’t envision them in my future; I think a lot of people feel the same. Sure, I may keep a streak or two on Snapchat, but I haven’t said a word to those people in months. The visible “proof” of a relationship may be there, but the real meaning of those friendships is long gone.  

What about the people we actually wanted to take with us, though? Our forever friends whom we were lucky enough to meet early on in life? That’s where it gets a little trickier and a little more painful. The truth is, we get involved in things. We want to make friends in our new environment, we want to find “our people” in our new homes and we want to find our calling – whether it be in clubs, classes, or anything else. And when we return to our dorm rooms at 8 p.m. to finally start our homework, a phone call or FaceTime call is oftentimes the last thing we really want to do. So, as we get busier and happier in our new lives, we distance ourselves from our old ones.  

The other people we lose contact with, in a weird and unexpected way, are in fact our families. I don’t know about anyone else, but I know I talked to my parents maybe once or twice a week during my first semester. I went from playing my mom in “Words With Friends” almost every day to never checking the game. College was my first taste of being totally by myself, and in that excitement, I didn’t call, I didn’t text, I didn’t try. And it made our relationship – one that was never going to go away because, I mean, that’s my family – a lot harder. Thankfully this semester has been better, and it made me realize that my true forever family isn’t changing anytime soon. So, rather than looking at our Sunday FaceTime calls as my weekly obligation, I view them as an addition to the texts I send my family throughout the week. I’ve begun to do this with the other relationships I’ve struggled to maintain in college as well. A small text here and there isn’t hard, and the difference it makes is truly astounding.  

Relationships are hard, no matter who they’re with or where you are. It may be easier to communicate in person, but the move to college and the friends we lose contact with along the way reveal a deep truth about us. It shows us who we view and what we think is truly important. And if that’s not your chemistry lab partner from junior year, that’s okay. And if it is, that’s okay too. As long as you’re putting yourself and the relationships you really value first, then you’re doing just fine and everything else will fall into place. 

Ruth Kramer ’22 is from Maineville, Ohio.