A typical millennial friendship would look like this: BFF texts “How are things going?”, you reply with a couple of memes to show her how you’ve been feeling and she totes gets it. OK, so there are people who would still rather meet up in person to catch up (#TeamCLEO preferred, too) but the reality is, friendships are changing with the digital world. You can find out all about your friend’s life just by following him or her on social media, especially with Instagram stories at the tip of our fingers. Here’s the real question, though: Can we be ourselves on social media? Do real friendships still exist?
HONESTY = THE BEST POLICY, ALWAYS
Well, what we can say for sure is that everyone appreciates a friendship that revolves around honesty. And you’d want friends to be genuine and real — online and offline. According to Snap Inc’s global study on friendship dynamics in this technological age, Gen-Z are looking for friendships revolving around a small, close group of friends. They want to feel like they can be their true, authentic selves.
Dr Nur Hafeeza Ahmad Pazil, sociologist, researcher and lecturer says, “[Gen-Z] are choosing to limit their online friends. They do not limit what they’re sharing, they are limiting the audience.” She goes on to explain that the digital space has changed the way we make friends and maintain friendships. “Social media allows us to manage our friendships online, either to maintain our established friendships or to form new friendships. We are free to choose our online friends, either to accept or reject their request to follow us on social media, even though we may know that person in real life,” Dr Nur Hafeeza says. So, with social media, you’re able to control the company you keep.
SNAPCHAT ALLOWS US TO BE REAL — NO FILTERS!
If it’s all getting too hard to keep up with friends, the next best thing may be using social media as an intimate way of communicating with your BFFs. Nana Murugesan, Managing Director, International Markets at Snap Inc says, “[With an app like Snapchat], there is no such thing as a perfect snap. There are no likes. There is no judgment. Communicating visually through the camera allows users to have an experience that is immediate, meaningful, and above all, fun. And Snapchat is safe and private.” The Snap study also tells us that Gen-Z are turning to Snapchat to communicate with their friends daily. It’s really because of that realness, and how you can be silly or have a bad hair day, and feel all right to share that.
SELF-ACCEPTANCE IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD
Based on Snap Inc’s study, Snapchat is committed to encouraging selfexpression and connecting real friends all over the world. The app is more about you, the user, the circle of friends you want to focus on and what you want to share with them. “When Snapchat launched in 2011, it was at a time when young people were already spending a lot of energy curating a perfect image of themselves on social media. One of the first innovations of Snapchat, ephemeral communication, was designed to combat this typical social media behaviour,” Nana says.
Since the Snaps that you put out won’t be there forever, it’s how the platform creates this sense of sharing a real moment with others, just like in real-life. Dr Nur Hafeeza thinks the app boosts users’ self-esteem, too. “Snapchat’s camera-first layout encourages users to express their feelings and thoughts freely. As we share updates about our lives with our friends, we get a boost of self-confidence. Since we are being genuine in our interactions, we learn to practice self-acceptance,” she explains. With Snapchat, you can be true and just be you.
PICTURES SPEAK MORE THAN WORDS
Another thing that technology can do for friendships? Be able to send videos and memes to interact with each other (That gender swap filter tho, #hilarious!). Snap Inc’s study found that users were able to express the things they wanted in a way that they couldn’t with words. “We believe that friendship isn’t just about conversations but shared experiences. And this is catered for, not only in sending Snaps, but in our products such as Group Stories and more recently Snap Games, where you can play and chat with friends simultaneously,” Nana says.
TBH interactive visuals can help with expressing our thoughts and feelings so much in the digital space, ’cause they can sometimes get lost with just text. Pictures can really mean a thousand words, especially when you're having troubles trying to express what you want to say. Nana adds that Snapchat has a tonne of creative tools like Stickers, AR Lenses, Filters and Bitmoji to allow users to connect emotionally with their friends online. “Seeing a face and hearing a voice are necessary for intimacy because it gives a sense of presence, which I find is an essential element in developing and maintaining close friendships,” Dr Nur Hafeeza says. Well, we definitely can't imagine what our lives and friendships would be like without technology. So, send that cute Snap to your BFF RN!
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