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Cultivating friendships through social media

We’re good at celebrating friendships on social media.

Although the act of friending might seem little more than adding someone to a list of contacts, we cultivate friendships on social media with likes and shares, images and tags, greetings and comments of love and support.

Calling someone a “friend” elicits feelings of connection, even if you might never actually meet an online friend face-to-face.

In rare cases, the friend isn’t even a real person. I’m not really Facebook friends with our local Dairy Queen. Yet my belly and wallet would suggest we have a deep, personal connection.

Facebook quantifies our friendships through the pictures we post that represent our connections as well as old posts we’ve shared about one another.

While other platforms help us celebrate these links, none has examined friendships quite as extensively and publicly as Snapchat. The image and video messaging app released its 2020 friendship report, a follow-up to its first report in 2019.

This time there’s an emphasis on how the pandemic has impacted friendships.

Snapchat conducted interviews with over 30,000 people in 16 countries. It included reflections and advice from 17 relationship experts from around the world.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic brought some friends closer together and reconnected lost friends. A majority of Snapchat users said they felt closer to their friends since the start of the pandemic.

However, some felt disconnected and lonelier during the pandemic. At the same time, the report suggests those who have lost touch with close friends from childhood want to reconnect with them on Snapchat.

“Friends are our first line of defense against loneliness, and we generally make our best friends in childhood; on average we have known our closest friends for at least half of our lives,” Snapchat reported.

To help combat loneliness and celebrate friends, Snapchat launched The Friendship Time Capsule. Friends who can’t be together in person can create new memories through an augmented reality feature. With machine learning, friends get a glimpse of their relationship in a variety of scenarios in the future.

Analyzing its new Time Capsule data, Snapchat found that the event most likely to strengthen a friendship was taking a vacation together. So, it gave users a glimpse into what those trips might look like in the future.

“With traveling no longer on the table for the immediate future, we wanted to create a way to support our community and imitate this experience,” Snapchat reported. “Through (augmented reality), the app allows Snapchatters to pool positive thoughts with their friends about where they’ll go together in the future.”

When users want to reconnect with old friends, Snapchat found that most will reach out with an image of the friends together. Some send photos that reminded them of shared memories. Others try humor, hoping to reconnect with funny memes or GIFs.

It might be a while before we’re hanging out with old friends face-to-face and making new memories. In the meantime, we have apps like Snapchat to keep us virtually connected.

You can read the full report at press.snap.com/friendship-report-2020.

Dr. Adam Earnheardt is a professor of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and on his blog at www.adamearn.com.

Cultivating friendships through social media

We’re good at celebrating friendships on social media.

Although the act of friending might seem little more than adding someone to a list of contacts, we cultivate friendships on social media with likes and shares, images and tags, greetings and comments of love and support.

Calling someone a “friend” elicits feelings of connection, even if you might never actually meet an online friend face-to-face.

In rare cases, the friend isn’t even a real person. I’m not really Facebook friends with our local Dairy Queen. Yet my belly and wallet would suggest we have a deep, personal connection.

Facebook quantifies our friendships through the pictures we post that represent our connections as well as old posts we’ve shared about one another.

While other platforms help us celebrate these links, none has examined friendships quite as extensively and publicly as Snapchat. The image and video messaging app released its 2020 friendship report, a follow-up to its first report in 2019.

This time there’s an emphasis on how the pandemic has impacted friendships.

Snapchat conducted interviews with over 30,000 people in 16 countries. It included reflections and advice from 17 relationship experts from around the world.

Not surprisingly, the pandemic brought some friends closer together and reconnected lost friends. A majority of Snapchat users said they felt closer to their friends since the start of the pandemic.

However, some felt disconnected and lonelier during the pandemic. At the same time, the report suggests those who have lost touch with close friends from childhood want to reconnect with them on Snapchat.

“Friends are our first line of defense against loneliness, and we generally make our best friends in childhood; on average we have known our closest friends for at least half of our lives,” Snapchat reported.

To help combat loneliness and celebrate friends, Snapchat launched The Friendship Time Capsule. Friends who can’t be together in person can create new memories through an augmented reality feature. With machine learning, friends get a glimpse of their relationship in a variety of scenarios in the future.

Analyzing its new Time Capsule data, Snapchat found that the event most likely to strengthen a friendship was taking a vacation together. So, it gave users a glimpse into what those trips might look like in the future.

“With traveling no longer on the table for the immediate future, we wanted to create a way to support our community and imitate this experience,” Snapchat reported. “Through (augmented reality), the app allows Snapchatters to pool positive thoughts with their friends about where they’ll go together in the future.”

When users want to reconnect with old friends, Snapchat found that most will reach out with an image of the friends together. Some send photos that reminded them of shared memories. Others try humor, hoping to reconnect with funny memes or GIFs.

It might be a while before we’re hanging out with old friends face-to-face and making new memories. In the meantime, we have apps like Snapchat to keep us virtually connected.

You can read the full report at press.snap.com/friendship-report-2020.

Dr. Adam Earnheardt is a professor of communication at Youngstown State University. Follow him on Twitter at @adamearn and on his blog at www.adamearn.com.

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