How the Internet creates/enhances our Relationships

Well this was not the blog post I was going to write today, but something interesting has happened in the last several days that I decided to blog about. A close friend of mine that I grew up with and went to school with recently started a blog on his 4 month old son’s experience with Leukemia. His son just had surgery today to remove some of the cancer and is now going to be spending the next 6 months in the pediatric care center of the hospital while he undergoes chemo. Now you might be wondering what this has to do with the internet or technology and how it enhances our relationships. Well I have been incredibly impressed with how far our technologies have come to enable deep connections with friends and family no matter where they are at. My friend and his family are on the west coast and myself out east. Yet because of Facebook and their blog, I am able to stay updated on what is happening. I wasn’t even aware that his son was having any challenges. I know what a great friend I am right? But the fact is that life is so busy that often times the friendships that sustained us during our childhood, through college, or at various times of our life sometimes fade. I haven’t talked with this friend face-to-face in over 4 years. I wish it wasn’t this way, but life happens.

So as I read this blog on what is happening with my friend’s son, I am incredibly grateful for the technology that enables this to happen. I know that this time in his life will be incredibly challenging and their isn’t really much I can do based on where I am at. However, because of technology he is aware that I am aware of his challenges and more importantly that I care about what is happening. Research has supported that individuals are more healthy and generally happier when they have meaningful relationships in their lives. A meaningful relationship is open to interpretation in my mind. I am also reminded of a talk at the TED conference by Stefana Broadbent which you can view below:

There are people who will always critique technology and cite the enormity of problems with privacy and other issues. But imagine how much good we can do, how much fun we can have, and most importantly how we can maintain dear friendships. Thanks for bearing with me as I feel like I just needed to write this out. Perhaps it’s because I’m a new dad, or perhaps it’s because I’m a social worker, and perhaps it’s because I just can’t fathom the road that my friend, his family, and their little boy have ahead of them. It’s all of those things and many more I’m sure.


About jimmysw
Associate Professor of Social Work with a focus on the Future of Social Media, Social Work Education and all things technology.

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