Brendan Burchard has just published a new, exciting and insightful book called The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive. Get it. Read it!
I recognize there are many beneficial uses for Facebook, support group sharing, information messaging, keeping up with family and friends, business and marketing contacts, etc. I have always felt a little wary about it though and I will admit that learning online stuff is not on my list of fun things in my spare time. I’m just not as excited about using it as the millions of others who love it. However, I also have hesitations because I hear from many people concerning struggles about relationship skills and loneliness even though they have many “friends” through social media. I found the following paragraph in Brendan’s and this explains my concerns as well.
He says it just right, “We all want to feel connected to those around us. The challenge in our modern society is that, thanks to social media, we are more connected to more people than ever before, but those connections are more superficial than ever. In the not-too-distant past, our friendships were limited to people in our immediate neighborhoods, so pondering who our “real friends” were was a short process of elimination—we had only a handful of people to consider. Today we have hundreds if not thousands of “friends” online. But how many of them are real? How many count? How many do we trust? How many can we call in crisis or triumph? Your friendships have as much bearing on your happiness in life as the kind of work you do or the amount of money you make. That’s why it’s time you figured out the friendship factor in your life!”
From what I read and hear, there is general agreement on the limits of social media like Facebook. It’s mostly an exchange of information, but broad and deeper feelings about life are more difficult to share here. There’s no doubt that the drive for connection has kept us alive as a species. The problem is that as much as we want to connect with others, we also want to exert our own wills on the world and our relationships. And that leads to conflict internally and externally. If this is true, then perhaps our real challenge in improving our relationships across the board would be to learn to understand and communicate our own needs for independence while in interdependent relationships. We need to learn how to honor each other’s individuality as we become closer to each other.
Almost all of the things that get us into trouble in our relationships—criticism, defensiveness, competition, harsh disagreements—stem from a lack of understanding, acceptance, or validation of each other’s uniqueness and individuality. Perhaps, then, we should consider sharing with others what our ideal relationship with them would look like. If you’re willing to make the effort of defining and sharing what you want, and you’re willing to listen to and meet other’s desires as well, you’ll find that all your relationships grow. Be clear about what you want and what others want, and work to create relationships that you’re both proud of. Do this for life, and you’ll find yourself with happy and healthy lifelong relationships.
Brendan gives us a great example in his book, “It’s such a simple thing: ask others what they desire from us in relationship, and share ours as well. Yet we often forget to do it. I remember once asking my mother what would help her feel more connected to me, her middle son. She said, “You’d have to call me every Sunday and just talk with me and tell me you love me.” I started doing that and have done so for almost fifteen years.” Wow!