You don’t have to keep in touch with friends

By Sandhya Sivakumar, Columnist

It’s so convenient to keep in touch nowadays. My mom checks in on her friends from fourth grade who are scattered across the world as easily as she talks to her friends from work. My grandparents send  emails and share videos on Facebook whether they’re visiting us here or next door to their friends in India.

Following someone on social media, however, isn’t the same as keeping in touch with them. I’m friends with 200 people from my high school on Facebook just so that in 20 years I can have some fresh gossip. I have so many people I used to be close with in high school on Snapchat, but I have next to no idea what’s going on in their lives.

I’ve tried to keep in touch with many of my high school friends by planning to call or FaceTime, but most of my friendships have devolved into checking each other’s Snapchat stories and sharing funny tweets that remind us of each other.

It should be easy to keep up with old friends when there’s myriad of ways to connect. However, most of my high school relationships were built on a shared history and a common community. Even friendships I thought were based on an underlying connection consisted mostly of gossip about other people. It’s hard to keep up these friendships over the phone, and I’ve realized I don’t  want to.

It’s hard to break up with your friends;  harder than it is to break up with a significant other,  because it’s not likely for someone to have only one friend. When most of your conversations are phone calls it can be easy to create misunderstandings, whether on accident or on purpose.

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Tone doesn’t read over text the way it does in person. I’m definitely guilty of sending more than a few caustic, exclamation-point-free messages without a second thought on the assumption the person on the other side will magically know what I’m trying to say. It’s easy to clarify misunderstandings when you see the people you text every day, but sending a thoughtless message to someone 400  miles away has repercussions that a serial bad texter doesn’t necessarily consider.

Trying to keep up friendships over long distances seems to become a never-ending cycle of arguments and reassurances that contaminate the time you spend with those people in person. I’ve realized I feel closer to the friends I only talk to during breaks in person than the friends I desperately try to keep up with using technology during school.

Staying in touch isn’t impossible, of course, but it definitely requires commitment. With the pressures of school and the drama of everyday life, it’s good to realize being friends doesn’t necessarily require a constant presence. A two-hour conversation over coffee is definitely closer to friendship than two months of regular missed calls and texts left on read.

Sandhya is a freshman in LAS.

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