Mark D. Roberts

This is the title of a USA Today opinion piece in today’s edition. The author, Mark Vernon, has recently published The Meaning of Friendship. Here are some excerpts from his article:

Indeed, we might feel as if we are suddenly awash in friends. Yet right
before our eyes, we’re also changing the way we conduct relationships.
Face-to-face chatting is giving way to texting and messaging; people even prefer these electronic exchanges to, for instance, simply talking on a phone.Smaller
circles of friends are being partially eclipsed by Facebook
acquaintances routinely numbered in the hundreds. Amid these smaller
trends, growing research suggests we could be entering a period of
crisis for the entire concept of friendship. Where is all this leading
modern-day society? Perhaps to a dark place, one where electronic
stimuli slowly replace the joys of human contact.

Yet we know that less is more when it comes to deeper relationships. It
is lonely in the crowd. A connection may only be a click away, but
cultivating a good friendship takes more. It seems common sense to
conclude that “friending” online nurtures shallow relationships — as
the neologism “friending” itself implies.

If there is a secret to close friendship, that’s it. Put down the device; engage the person.

What do you think? Is Vernon right? Or is he overstating his case? Do electronic media help your have deeper relationships? Or do they foster a greater number of superficial ones?

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