It's never been easier to connect with people than it is right now. Social networks reach across the globe in seconds, and there's a video phone in every person's pocket, as if we're all living in an episode of Star Trek. But for all the things that modern technology has done to make it easier to make and stay friends, there are just as many pitfalls to friendship in the digital era.
You "Know" More People, but You Don't Really Get to Know Them
How many friends do you have? A few hundred? A few thousand? Peoples' networks are bigger than ever, but knowing so many people means that you don't really get a chance to know many of them at all. With the exception of the few people who you do spend the weekends with, all of your friends and followers online are really just acquaintances.
The "acquaintance" relationship made possible by social media is just fine for people like your hairdresser and that girl you met at a party. But for those IRL friends that you might not see all the time, try not to let them fall into the bucket of people you only talk to through retweets. Make time for face time (or at least FaceTime) conversations every once in awhile.
It's Harder to Cut People Out
You can unfollow an ex and block their phone number from your contact list, but there's no guarantee that they'll stay out of your life, or your feed ("I know we have 30 friends in common, but no, I don't know that guy—he's actually dead to me, Facebook"). Unfortunately, I don't think there's a solution for this one other than to stay strong.
There's No Incentive to Catch Up With Old Friends
Technology makes it easier to stay in touch with friends who move away or move out of your life, but don't let your online connection take the place of a real one. Seeing their Snaps and Facebook updates doesn't give you a chance to miss them, and if you never miss them, you might not ever get the urge to plan a visit.
You Have Less to Talk About in Person
Your good friend just returned from an incredible trip around the world. Great! You'd like to ask about what they did, but thanks to the Instagram photos, you might be able to recite their vacation itinerary better than they can. Instead, use what you do know about their trip as a springboard to ask them more about it—had you ever been horseback riding before? How far could you see from the top of the tower?
We Sometimes Ignore Friends in the Flesh
As long as you've got your smartphone in your hand, you can reach out to anyone, anywhere in the world. And with your entire social life quite literally in your palm, you might find that you occasionally ignore the friends right in front of you to answer a text or check a notification. There's an easy fix for this one: Don't. Put your phone on silent and leave it in your bag for the night to enjoy the company right in front of you.