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Making True Friends in the Facebook Age

By Kate O'Sullivan

When you get to university, you meet so many people so quickly. You will meet people whom you would like to know better, but in the hubbub of the beginning of classes, they will slip through the cracks. Your Facebook friends count will be the highest it's ever been, but you might feel like you don't really know anyone. Don't despair, friendships will grow organically. St Andrews will be the backdrop of some of the most meaningful friendships, that you’ll ever have. It just takes a little time.

That being said, don't be afraid to pursue friendships. Two of my closest friends were very nearly near misses. Although we were friends on Facebook, we could have gone through our whole university lives and beyond without ever having a proper conversation. Imagining that prospect now, after building those friendships, is unthinkable.

I first met Lindsey in very much the same way I just described. We were Facebook friends, mutual ‘real life’ friends and similar interests. We existed on the periphery of each other's friendship groups and would often be at the same events. We liked each other’s pictures and commented on each other’s posts, but we had never sat down together and had a decent conversation. One day, I saw on Facebook that she had liked a particularly funny meme and I decided enough was enough and she was just too awesome for me not to be friends with her. I was so nervous that she'd think I was too forward. ‘I hope you don't think this is weird,’ I messaged her, ‘but I think we should be friends.’ A few weeks later, we visited the McManus museum together and have been close ever since.

Messaging Sam was a little more nerve wracking. I didn't just message her to talk about friendship, but I was messaging her to let her know that I greatly admired her work with Populus. Unlike with Lindsey, I didn't have mutual real-life friends with Sam. I was concerned that I would appear like a creepy randomer. My anxiety was unwarranted. ‘I have been a bit sick this week and this cheered me up so much,’ She replied, ‘let's get coffee!’

I am not a confident person at all and would probably never have reached out to Lindsey and Sam in person. The ability to hide behind a keyboard has its negative consequences, but it gave me the confidence to make friends in a way that felt comfortable. Think of it this way, I had nothing to lose. Worst case, they remained online acquaintances. Best case, I made friends with two lovely, funny women whom I wouldn't be without.

So I encourage you to not leave your friendships online. If you're ‘liking’ each other’s posts online, then then odds are that you’re going to like each other in real life. Take a chance and you may just make some of the best friends that you’ll ever have!

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