From Likes to Friendship: Overcoming the Illusion of Connection on Social Media
In today's hyper-connected world, it's easier than ever to amass a vast array of online friends and followers. With just a few taps or clicks, we can add dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people to our social media feeds. We can like, comment, and share with abandon, building a virtual network of individuals who seem to support us and care about us.
But when we step back and really examine these connections, we might realize that many of them are just illusions of friendship.
How many of those "friends" would be there for us in a time of need? How many would truly celebrate our successes, rather than just clicking a button on their screen?
If we want to cultivate true friendship and positive influences in our lives, we need to move beyond the realm of likes and follows and focus on building real connections with the people around us.
Life doesn’t care how many Facebook, TikTok, or Instagram friends you have. Who you spend your time is almost as important as how you spend your time.
There's an old proverb that says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity" Proverbs 17:17. This speaks to the value of true friendship, which is not just about having people around you who are fun to be with, but who will be there for you through thick and thin. It's about having an inner circle of friends who will support you, challenge you, and help you become the best version of yourself. But how do you go about building such a circle?
Once upon a time, there was a lion who was known for his strength and bravery. He roamed the jungle alone, and other animals were afraid of him.
One day, a tiny mouse accidentally stumbled upon the lion's path. The lion caught the mouse and was about to eat it when the mouse begged for mercy, promising to repay the favor one day.
The lion laughed at the idea that such a small creature could help him, but he decided to let the mouse go. A few days later, the lion got caught in a hunter's trap. He roared in pain and struggled to get free, but the trap was too strong.
The mouse heard the lion's cries and recognized his voice. The mouse quickly ran to the trap and started to nibble at the ropes until the lion was free.
From that day on, the lion and the mouse became good friends. Even though they were very different in size and strength, they both knew that they needed each other.
During a difficult time when my family was suffering, I realized that true friendship and brotherhood/sisterhood in Christ are not transactional. It was then that I discovered who my real friends were - those who stood by me and offered their support without any expectation of receiving anything in return.
5 Steps to Form Your Inner Circle
Identify your core values and priorities: It may be easier to ID your deal breakers. What are the things you do not want to let in your room? It is important to know what you stand for and what is most important to you in life. This will help you attract like-minded people into your inner circle. "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." - Proverbs 27:17
Evaluate your current relationships: Take a look at the people in your life and evaluate whether they align with your core values and priorities. If they don't, it may be time to let go of those relationships and make room for new ones. "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" - 1 Corinthians 15:33
Seek out new relationships: Be intentional about seeking out new relationships with people who share your values and priorities. Join clubs, attend events, and get involved in activities that align with your interests. "Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." - Proverbs 13:20
Nurture your relationships: Once you have identified people who align with your values and priorities, invest time and energy into nurturing those relationships. Spend quality time with them, show interest in their lives, and be there for them when they need support. "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor." - Romans 12:10
Maintain boundaries: It is important to set boundaries in your relationships to protect your own well-being and ensure that your relationships are healthy and positive. "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" - 2 Corinthians 6:14
Take some time to reflect on your current friendships. Who are the people you consider to be part of your inner circle? What qualities do they have that make them good friends? What could you do to strengthen those connections?
"Deal Breaker" Game:
Divide the team into pairs or small groups.
Instruct each group to come up with a list of 5-10 deal breakers, or qualities that they absolutely cannot accept in a friend or close companion.
Examples could include: dishonesty, lack of empathy, unreliability, etc.
Each group should then present their list to the rest of the team, explaining why each item is a deal breaker.
As a team, discuss which deal breakers are most important and why.
Encourage team members to share personal stories or experiences that shaped their deal breakers.
End the exercise by having each team member commit to being mindful of their own deal breakers and actively seeking out friends and inner circle members who meet their standards.
This exercise helps team members to identify and articulate their personal values and boundaries, which can then guide their choices in building their inner circle.