Technology is a wonderful thing – it allows us to communicate with friends and family instantaneously and meet many new people, from all over the world, or right in your own backyard. In this day and age, friendships abound through Facebook, Twitter, online chat groups, and more.
And while these online friendships can placate the need for socialization, we all need something more.
Of course, online relationships have their place; they allow you to communicate with others, someone is always online that you can connect with, and they open you up to a more diverse world with new ideas and perspectives. Going online lets you stay connected with friends and family near and far, with people of varying age groups, and easily re-connect with people from your past.
Real life friends are the ones you meet up with, face-to-face; for coffee, a walk, to play a round of golf. You listen to them, share your ups and downs, and are there for each other when needed.
Online friendships are supposed to complement offline relationships. Unfortunately, more and more of us are substituting online “socialization” for the real thing.
There isn’t much research yet on the impact of online relationships with overall wellbeing, but what has been done so far is quite interesting.
John F. Helliwell of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia conducted a study of over 5,000 internet users to learn more about online friendships and their impact on a person’s wellbeing.
Helliwell found 3 key results, “First, the number of real-life friends is positively correlated with subjective well-being even after controlling for income, demographic variables and personality differences. Doubling the number of friends in real life has an equivalent effect on well-being as a 50% increase in income. Second, the size of online networks is largely uncorrelated with subjective well-being. Third, we find that real-life friends are much more important for people who are single, divorced, separated or widowed than they are for people who are married or living with a partner.”
To put it more simply, online friendships don’t deliver the same levels of happiness that offline friendships do.
How can you get the best of both worlds?
It’s simple, really. Use online platforms to enhance your offline relationships. Social networking sites can help you stay connected with friends and family between visits. Share photos, daily tidbits, and interesting facts/articles/videos when online. But take your conversations offline. Make plans to meet up with friends and see each other face-to-face.
If you find it difficult to connect with friends offline, or want to expand your social network, social platforms are a great option.
Amintro is the app that lets you connect with like-minded people online, and encourages you to head out to explore your community together. Our safe and friendly environment was designed exclusively for those 50 plus and allows you to connect with confidence. The benefit of joining an online community like ours is that everyone on Amintro is looking for the same thing – to expand their offline social circles.
Don’t let the real world pass you by. Get offline, out of the house, and live a socially engaged life. Trust us, you will be happier and healthier for it.
By Christine Tompa