Authentic friendships involve sharing our deepest

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Authentic friendships involve sharing our deepest secrets and dreams with the people we trust most. This sort of sharing doesn’t happen with our long lists of virtual friends. But despite their online friendships, many people find it difficult to have authentic friendships and are lonely. To some, it may be easier to communicate online. They may lack social skills and have trouble initiating a conversation with someone new. Or, they may find it easy to meet people but haven’t developed the skills to maintain friendships. Others may be highly sensitive and are easily hurt when someone is thoughtless. They may take things too personally, so they avoid personal interaction with people they don’t know very well. Some people will argue that online friendships offer all of the same emotional benefits as in-person friendships do. And while it’s certainly true that people can form emotional bonds without ever meeting face-to-face, it is the lack of shared real-world experiences that prevents online-only friendships from offering people the kind of positive reinforcement and mental wellbeing that in-person friendships do. In the 1960s, a study was done at the University of California, Los Angles (UCLA). Professor Albert Mehrabian and his colleagues determined that only 7 percent of communication is based on the written or voiced word. Fifty-five percent is based on body language, and 38 percent is based on tone of voice. Real communication doesn’t come from reading someone’s words on a screen. It comes from hearing the person’s voice and the tone in which they say things. Seeing the look in their eyes, their gestures, facial expressions, and body language provide additional cues to their meaning. True friends have a physical connection. They cry on each other’s shoulders and hug each other with affection. When they hear exciting news, they grasp hands and jump up and down. So if we try to forge new friendships or maintain existing ones based on digital media only, our nonverbal cues disappear. The use of abbreviations, a few quick words, and emoticons may not truly convey what we want to say. And they may not provide the kind of comfort or emotion that our friends need to hear. If our only contact with some of our friends is through social media because of distance or time constraints, then those relationships may suffer. It’s important to have real person-to-person conversations to maintain friendships. One hazard of communicating with friends electronically instead of talking with them in person or over the phone is that when people dash off a comment or a response, the nuances of their meaning may be lost. If they respond in a curt sentence or phrase, the receiver of the e-mail may misunderstand the writer’s meaning and become offended. When someone e-mails a question, and the recipient delays responding because he or she is unsure how to answer, the sender may think the other person doesn’t care. In face-to-face communication, there might be a response such as “I don’t know” or “Can I get back to you on that?” A

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