Forming meaningful connections grows more difficult the older we become. Life has a knack of choking the seeds of relationship right out of your soil. School, work, romantic partnerships, and even hobbies, were all created for us to form meaningful connections. We can talk to our friends using video conferencing, chat it up at endless events, send memes through group texts, and leave fun comments on friend’s photos – but still feel alone. With all the options to connect, most people have moments of loneliness that can be quite overwhelming. We feel more alone in a time when we should feel extremely connected. As we start to enjoy the holiday season, I write this post asking you to reach out. Be the friend you wished you had when you felt like you didn’t have any friends. Be a friend to the friendless.
One can have more the 10,000 followers, but find themselves sitting on the couch, scrolling away, losing tangible connections. Reach out. According to a study conducted at Oxford University’s Experimental Psychology Department, R.I.M Dunbar, PhD, found that humans only have a capacity to form about 150 deep connections in our lifetime. We are limited by the size of our brains and the amount of time we have to process complex emotional information. Adults spend more than two hours a day scrolling through social media. When you only have so much time to connect, we are losing precious hours entertaining images of people we barely know.
I’ve found myself in this place, more times than I’d like to admit. My job is to post pretty pictures on the internet. I have felt the endorphin rush of achieving ‘likes’ on a photo that I’ve posted. Chasing that high, can sometimes cause me to forget about the small interactions that help me feel connected and grounded in the real world. Losing those connections sometimes causes depression to kick in. It feels like an endless cycle. I’m left sitting in my room, thinking, “does anyone really like me, does anyone care?”.
Thinking about Dr. Dunbar’s research and knowing that we only have capacity for 150 friends, you have to wonder, “Do you even have that many people you can call a friend?” Maybe, just maybe, you have capacity for more connections, but you aren’t trying hard enough to bring it together. Is it fear? I’m going to answer and say that, for me, it is fear. Fear of letting others in and a fear of not feeling like I’m enough to keep that person engaged and entertained. Wild, right?
Proverbs 27:9 says, “The sweet smell of incense can make you feel good, but true friendship is better still.” When we chase the high of social media engagement and surface level friendships, it’s like the sweet smell of incense – it’s just temporary. True connection is what makes you better. So, when lure of the world-wide web starts to drift away. Look around, reach out. Fight through the apprehension and surface level fulfillment to create a connection that you’d enjoy.
While social media and electronic communication causes a void in friendships. You can fight the feeling by being intentional about your connections. Remember, you have 150 spaces in your brain for great friends. Think about the kind of friend you need when you feel lonely. Someone to make you laugh? Maybe someone to share your idea with? Maybe, someone who can explore new places with – get out the house! New experiences, with new friends can be the spark you need to break out of the shell of loneliness.
Melissa D Watkins is an author and lifestyle blogger living in Nashville. Her website, fabglance.com, welcomes 1000’s of readers per month to create amazing personal style, social media savvy, and motivation. Follow #fabglance on your favorite social media platform.