The world we live in is increasingly becoming more and more electronic. It is possible to have friendships that exist only in the virtual world through social networks, message boards, and chat rooms. Twelve-step groups, therapy, and church services can all take place entirely online, as well. It is an interesting phenomenon that has its place: people who, for a host of reasons, are not able to be socially successful when physically around other people, are now able to have meaningful relationships.Everyone can benefit from learning how to use social media to help foster relationships both in the virtual and physical worlds. In this age when time is scarce, online resources give many of us a chance to connect with friends and family in an immediate way that we might not be able to do in the physical world. We need not wait for the class or family reunion; it is happening right now online. Here are some ways to use Facebook to build better relationships.1. Friending
Friending someone is often as easy as locating them with the Facebook search engine. Type a friend’s name into the search box and wait for the results. Click on the person you think is your friend and it will take you to their personal page. Even if their profile is set to private, there will probably be a profile picture, a location, and possibly a list of some pages they have liked, groups they are a part of, or where they have attended school or been employed. To “friend” someone, click on the “add as friend” button at the top of the screen. You may also send a personalized message to them along with your request. To make sure this is the person of your acquaintance, add a message like, “This is Tom from Royal Pin Bowling.”Once you have “friended” someone, their updates will post to your news wall. You will be able to look in on their lives as they post about what they are doing, what music they are listening to, and what movies they have watched recently. Some people are lazy about friending. But to improve your social life, take the time to find and connect with people you know.2. The “like” button and wall posts
If you are interested in becoming an active part of your friend’s life, respond to their posts. You can “like” something they have posted, which gives them a nice sense of validation. In addition to posting messages to the general public, you can post directly to your friend’s wall. This is a little like a phone call or text message in its personality. It lets your friend know you were thinking of them specifically, and is a good way to keep a friendship’s momentum.3. Visit their page
It may seem like you can rely on Facebook’s news feature to let you know how your friends are doing. If you have a great number of friends or don’t check in regularly, though, you can easily miss out on what is going on in your friend’s life. Check their wall regularly, post to their wall, and respond to their posts. This will let them know they are on your mind and will keep you on theirs.4. Engage in conversations
You can keep your friendships peripheral or superficial by simply making yourself a presence in their Facebook world. If you want to deepen the friendship, start and engage in conversations both on the “wall” and in messages. Post things on your wall that will start conversations or even debates. Anything that makes your friends think and keeps them talking will deepen the friendship, as long as it isn’t rude or inflammatory. It is a good idea to have an interesting discussion about why people have gone into their field of study; criticizing people’s political choices will only alienate those around you.Friendships look much different today than they did years ago. It is possible to have an intimate relationship with someone you only contact through email, text, and social media. It is also possible to be estranged from someone you see every day. If friendship is something important to you, using every available resource, including Facebook, will benefit you and deepen your friendships, both virtual and physical.
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