The Power of Friendships

Strong friendships make our lives better. We must carve out connecting time.

Posted Aug 22, 2018

I'm a longtime fan of "alternative" music. While it's hard for me to keep up with the many great bands these days, I still keep my ears open for catchy songs. One song that I ran across a couple of years ago is "Bros" by Wolf Alice. It's a beautiful song about the magic of friendship, and I think the video captures the sentiments of the song quite well. It is so important to spend quality time building friendships, because healthy relationships are one of the keys to happiness. If you have a couple of minutes, watch the video and listen to the song lyrics. You might notice something about the tween girls in the video. As the girls pal around, there are NO smartphones to interfere with their bonding time.

Sadly, it's rare to see tweens and teens without cell phones in hand for any length of time. This seems to be particularly true when they are bored. Heck, this goes for adults too! In the video, it often appears that the girls aren't doing too much of consequence. While they might be bored at times, they make up things to do and just play around. There is magic in those simple moments. 

The Magic of Friendship - In Real Life!

Many of us look back fondly to times of our youth. When our world centered around spending time with our friends and the adventures that we would experience together. Can you think of some of those times? Often sublime moments would emerge from ordinary circumstances. The magic of friendship frequently comes from the mundane. But we need to allow space for this to happen.

If you are reading this, then your youth was probably spent without smartphones and social media. It seems that every generation says this, but life was "simpler" back then. Without the endless options provided through technology these days, many of us spent our time together making up our own things to do and  just goofing off. But it is through such times that our friendships are forged. In turn, this forms the foundation of our happiness and well-being.

While social media has its place, it is beyond argument that throughout our long evolutionary history our social interactions took place "in real life." From an evolutionary standpoint, interacting through our smartphones and social media is incongruent with our natural heritage. This is what is know as evolutionary mismatch. Tween and teen depression, anxiety, and suicide rates are on the rise. While many factors are likely to be involved, it does appear that the increased problems coincide with the adoption of smartphones and social media. Kids - and adults - are spending more time on their phones and less time with one another in real life.

Happiness is the Payoff

In a sense, we might consider happiness to be the "payoff" for building and maintaining healthy relationships. To receive this payoff, we must focus on our in-person connections.  So, by acting more in line with our evolutionary heritage, we (and our friends!) are more likely to experience the payoff of happiness. While we can use our phones to facilitate our in-person connections, we must be careful to not let our phones undermine or displace our in-person relationships.

Like a plant, our friendships must be nurtured and cared for so that they can grow healthy. We can see the magic of friendship in the video for Bros. It's up to us to learn that lesson from the video ( yeah, I get the irony) and experience it for ourselves in real life. It takes some effort to carve out the time, but the payoff is worth it.