Social media and relationships

Why We Should Care that Friends Day is February 4

For those of us who know the value of our friendships (and if you're on my list then I probably am preaching to the choir!) we know better than to let any moment pass when we can tell our friends that we appreciate having them in our lives. But did you know that a fun opportunity is upon us this Sunday? 

Every February 4 is Friends Day, a day when Facebook encourages us to show gratitude to those who matter most to us. So I'm looking forward to logging on that day to see what fun experiences they roll out to encourage us to celebrate our friendships, (plus, I'll be doing my very first Facebook LIVE to mark the day so come join me-- details below!) but whether you're on Facebook or not, I am always a fan of taking any excuse to share our love with our friends.

Why Expressing Gratitude for Our Friends Matters

For anyone who follows me, or has read my books (especially Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness), you remember just how significant positivity is to our friendships.

Feeling good feelings is the foundation of every healthy relationship! Positivity is what determines whether we will want to spend more time with each other, how we end up feeling about each other, and how safe we'll feel in sharing ourselves with each other! The less doubt we have that we are loved, accepted, and admired--the closer and more satisfying that friendship will feel. Basically, our friendships are the people we are choosing to be with and we'll make that intuitive choice, in part, based on how they make us feel about ourselves: we like people who like us.

So anytime we can compliment, express gratitude, give a gift, provoke laughter, communicate our pride in them, or enter into an experience together that feels special--> we are increasing the bond of that relationship! We are increasing the odds that it's healthy.  We are ensuring that our interactions together feel warmer, more supportive, and more satisfying. Those are no small outcomes!

In fact, research shows we need five acts of positivity for every negative feeling in our relationship in order to keep those connections feeling healthy and fulfilling.  In other words, there will undoubtedly always be some "withdrawals" we each make on that friendship with annoying habits, stressful events, and unmet expectations; but more telling to the health of the relationship than the fact that we will occasionally disappoint each other is whether we're making enough "deposits" to keep our relationships balanced!  The more joy coming in-- the less the negative will affect us.

24900168_10155777415592435_3513058004360618783_n.png

 

To that end, we have so much to gain by showing our friends that they are thought of, appreciated, and meaningful to us-- this Sunday, on Friends Day, and pretty much every other day throughout the year! ;)

Fun Ideas and Ways to Show Gratitude to Our Friends

  • Brag and Cheer Loudly for the Success of Our Friends!  Just like we cheer for our favorite teams, show the love to your friends on social media! Every day is a golden opportunity to post your wedding congratulations, brag about their podcasts and blogs, and cheer for their work accomplishments, and this Sunday, we can at least post on our friends' walls and tell them jsut how cool we think they are!

  • Post Photos of Friends on Friend Day!  Post a collage of photos of friends who made memories with you this year—we all love to feel seen and valued! Plus, we'll see those photos pop up every year ensuring the love will keep on giving!  This gift, while seemingly small communicates to our friends that we loved making those memories with them and research shows that seeing photos gives us a boost of joy, almost more powerful than the day we took the original photo!

  • Host a Gratitude Party.  If you're up for celebrating offline, one of my favorite ideas, shared in my book Friendships Don’t Just Happen!, is to throw a casual party for your friends who rallied around you after a hard year, a big event, or a painful crisis.  Invite them over, feed them food, introduce them to each other, and thank them to their face for being there for you in a way that mattered! Send out the invitations on Friends Day and let them look forward to a soon-to-come gathering!

  • Surprise Friends With Stamped Mail!  Getting an unexpected card in the mail is one of the simple joys in life that stands out and means so much.  Write a few lines today telling your friend how much your friendship means to you and what you specifically admire about them so they can find your love in the midst of the bills and junk mail! 


Join Me On My First Facebook Live!

I've been wanting to try out Facebook Live for a while now (since apparently I am one of the last people on the planet to do one?!? ha!) and I figured what better time to dive in than on Friends Day!!  So will you come join me so I'm not talking to crickets?? (It's like the fear of being the only one to show up at a party! Come save me!) I know you have the Super Bowl too... but you know... maybe you have 10-15 minutes on Sunday morning, at 10 am PST/11 am MST/12 pm CST/1 pmEST to come say hi? I'll be on my Facebook page sharing research on the power of being grateful for our friends and I'll be sharing your stories and ideas and tips, too!  Can't wait!!!!  (Join me here.)

To My Non-Posting Friends on Facebook

I've heard all your sweet excuses for not posting updates on Facebook...

  • "I don't have time for it."
  • "I'm just not someone who needs to tell everyone what I'm doing...I'm not one of those people."
  • "Facebook's privacy policy freaks me out.  That stuff stays up there forever."
  • "The people who really care about me already know what's happening in my life."
  • "My life isn't exciting... there's nothing to really post about."
  •  "It's all so shallow and feels like one big place where everyone just tries to impress everyone else. I prefer deeper."

And I've nodded my head many a time saying things like, "That's okay."

But the truth is: I wish you posted more on Facebook.

facebook screen shot of my friends

Please, please, please post more often

Here is what I really want to say to each of your reasons:

"I don't have time for it."

If you never log on to Facebook because you don't have time, then this post isn't for you (though I hope you don't see connecting with others as a waste of time?); but if you log on and scroll through all our posts (and using your husband's account counts, too!) then the truth is that you do have the time. You're already taking the time to read, now just use 6 of those seconds to share.

Something in you enjoys connecting and finding out what others are doing. But you're not sharing that gift with us by sharing what you're doing. Instead, you're lurking and stalking, not connecting. You're eavesdropping and not offering anything to the conversation.

The truth is that Facebook doesn't have to consume your life or take that much time.  In fact, it's the easiest and fastest way to connect in little ways with a bunch of other busy people.

"I'm just not someone who needs to tell everyone what I'm doing...I'm not one of those people."

Those people are the ones who are engaging and connecting with others.  Those people are the ones who are keeping up more of their friendships.  Those people are the ones whom I feel closer to because they are posting!

What if posting occasionally may not be as much for you as it is for us, your friends, the ones who love you and want to know what is happening in your life? What if you viewed it as a gift to let us see a few photos, interact with you about an article you found thought-provoking enough to share, or to cheer with you when you're celebrating good news?

What if instead of viewing sharing as a need that others must have, you recognized that sharing is actually a need of relationships, in general? We don't feel close to others without mutual sharing. It's not a weakness, but a strength.

"Facebook's privacy policy freaks me out.  That stuff stays up there forever."

I remember as a small child occasionally calling my Nana who lived in Arkansas. It was so rare though because in addition to always being worried about the price of long-distance calls, she also fretted about the fact that her phone line was a shared line with neighbors. I recall her cautioning us: "Don't say much because you never know who is listening."  As a kid I remember thinking, "I don't really care if your bored neighbor listens in to me telling you about how much I love swimming in the pool..." but I took her fear seriously and our phone calls were short and perfunctory.

She valued her privacy more than connecting.  The cost of this is that we grew up hardly ever talking with her.

It's not for me to decide everyone's comfort level, but surely not everything in your life needs to be Top Secret? My personal rule-of-thumb is "Don't post anything I wouldn't say on stage to a crowded room while I'm speaking." Others abide by the "Don't post anything that I'd be horrified if it were ever made public" rule.

I can stand by all my posts.  If Facebook wants to keep them, go for it. In the meantime, I'm engaging with people and building my relationships.

"The people who really care about me already know what's happening in my life."

Really? hmmm...  I'm skeptical if that's true. You're saying that if I went up to your closest friends and family and asked them "Do you hear from her as much as you want?" that they would all say yes?

I know for me that even with my closest friends whom I talk to pretty regularly-- I can assure you that I learn a lot more on Facebook that doesn't always come up during our conversations.

  • When a friend is on vacation, she's not calling me while she travels so I'm thrilled that she's posting on her trip and giving me a bird's eye view into her experiences.
  • When a friend lives long distance, our phone calls may be filled with all the "big updates" but if she's on Facebook then I'm also able to better picture her life in all the smaller ways that make up her every day.
  • When a friend comes over for dinner, we aren't pulling out our phones and showing each other photos of our work events, kids lives, or time with our parents--fortunately, if she's on Facebook then I get those too!
  • Even if I talk with my friends all the time-- I'm usually hearing about events before or after they happen. But if she posts her excitement as she is getting ready to defend her PhD dissertation or her nerves before a doctor's appointment then I also get to say a little prayer and feel more connected in real-time with what she's going through.

I don't want to rely on Facebook to share the things that matter most with the people who matter most, but giving them more context never hurts. You can keep your friend list as small as you want or share certain updates with only certain groups of people-- but trust me when I say that even your closest friends would love more! Save your time together to then go deeper about all those events!

"My life isn't exciting... there's nothing to really post about."

The less you post, the more pressure you'll feel that they have to be "big" when you do.  Post a bit more regularly and you'll find that we want to interact with you on all kinds of things-- not just those rare exciting ones.

If you took that philosophy seriously-- that we only want to hear from you when there is something exciting-- then you'd walk around quietly all day long, never talking to anyone.

But the truth is that connecting and engaging with people-- whether that's around our real life water-coolers and in the parking lots waiting for the kids to get out of school OR around our virtual hang-out spots-- means being there, making eye contact, contributing to the small talk, and looking for moments where deeper connection can happen.

I love your selfies with your kids (Remember I don't see them often because we usually get together without them!), your thoughts on current events (How else will I be exposed to different ideas?), your favorite new Netflix series (Now I can put it on my list to watch!), or the latest health fad you're experimenting with (I would have never tried green smoothies years ago if it weren't for so many of you sharing how much you love them!).

I'm not asking you to wow me or impress me.  I'm just asking you to relate to me.

 "It's all so shallow and feels like one big place where everyone just tries to impress everyone else. I prefer deeper."

And that's different from a dinner party, how? Seriously. You can't hold that against Facebook. I mean that's just human nature when we're all trying to introduce ourselves and meet each other in new ways.

We can't just refuse to ever be around people unless they're willing to just go straight to vulnerable!

And "Small talk" isn't all bad.  I mean, it doesn't have to be about the weather (but let me just say how grateful I am when I do learn on FB about an upcoming eclipse to watch for!) but there are a lot of topics that are interesting, informative, and inspiring that may not qualify as deep. We are all shaped and influenced by the opinions of others-- and I'd love to have your voice and thoughts in my life a wee bit more!

No one is saying Facebook should replace your visits, your nights out, or your phone calls, but in a world where most of us wish we felt closer to a few more people, it doesn't hurt to use every tool at our disposal for creating connection.

So my dear sweet friends, I wanted you to hear from someone on the other side, who shares generously and often, that I wish you would share just a wee bit more.  We want to hear from you!  :)  Your fans are anxiously awaiting.

See you on Facebook, hopefully.

xoxo

Shasta

p.s.  Leave a comment! Anyone with me on this? Do you agree? Or am I overlooking a really good excuse anyone has? Better yet, any chance I inspired anyone to consider posting more often???  :)

p.s.s  Are you on other social media sites? Let's connect! You can find me and GirlFriendCircles.com on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn!