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  • Writer's pictureAubrey Harris

Superficial Relationships in the Internet Age

In a world of social media influencers and personalities, discourse around superficial friendships is never far away.

These superficial and validation-based relationships of course aren't exclusive to those of high status or celebrity.

The term “friendship” is be defined as an interpersonal relationship characterized by a high degree of intimacy, interdependence, relational expectations, and shared perception.

And, more specifically, in transactional relationships, intimacy and shared perception are exchanged for external validation and shallow connection.

Even still, transactional relationships are not inherently bad. In fact, almost every relationship is an exchange of resources/needs, energy and self.

However, when our own motives supersede the needs and humanity of the people we call friends/partners, it becomes problematic.

Part of why that's so problematic is because increased engagement and access to the internet has resulted in an “illusion of social media" that pervades most all social contexts.

The proliferation of the internet has enabled everyone to catfish, lie, and create alternate realities for themselves in search of belonging and validation.

While the internet is a great space to build community, it’s also an incubator for aesthetic-based friendships.

Friends who have superficial harmony may conceal their disagreements and, in reality, not even like each other, despite calling the other a “friend.”

Even traditional media enforces narratives around how friend groups interact based on looks and shared interests. While this bears some truth (life mimics art), relationships tend to be far more dynamic and fluid than media representations capture.

As you strive to build and maintain friendships, remember that it’s important to get your needs met but not at the expense of others.

What looks good doesn’t always feel good, and how we treat the people we call friends, lovers, and confidants reflects our values, standards, and character.

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” — Albert Camus

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