Today, my best friend got married. She waited for this magic day in her life for over 10 years. Today, the time had finally come. I was not there. Unfortunately, 5000 miles lay between us. She is in Germany and I am in the United States. You may wonder why I am writing about this. Well, I am grateful for modern technology, which makes it possible for me to help choose her wedding-band via pictures on WhatsApp and Pinterest. I can receive instant updates via Facebook and Twitter, Skype with her to see the most beautiful dress ever, and talk to her the night before her special day through GoogleVoice.

However, what really is much more important than the instant connection and gratification we get from social media these days, is the personal relationships we form. I’d like to state that humans are social animals and that we need the interaction with one another. We need to form synergies that go beyond a computer screen and a keyboard. We should strive for live face-to-face contact and real-time vision and touch. We need not only the perception of being together but the real deal. So how does this work in the case of my friend and I? Some relationships can endure long separations. Here is my theory on why that is:

There are different types of social connections we form. For example, the quick smile while stopping next to another car at a traffic light, or the nice small-talk exchanged while waiting in line at the grocery store. Those interactions last from a few seconds to a few minutes and most likely the two people involved will never see each other again. Nevertheless, we carry these short experiences with us – sometimes for a long time.

Then we are exposed to relationships we know as short-term. They can last anywhere from a few hours to a few months. These relationships let you look a little bit closer at a person’s character. They give you the chance to let you learn more about that individual to see if you are a true match – partner or friend alike. In the end, it’s decision time – should the relationship grow or rather find its end-point? Again, the outcome does not matter. We will carry the experience with us.

If moving forward, we reach the third type of relationship. Those connections that last a life-time. You have reached the point of feeling completely comfortable with that person. You have built trust. In return you receive respect and a friendship that is long-lasting. This is the type of relationship my best friend and I have. We met as toddlers in preschool and went through elementary school together. Pretty soon after, our paths went toward different directions but we never grew apart. Once a year (or less) we see one another but our hearts are always intertwined. The souls are connected.

In my opinion, we need all three of these relationships, from a brief social interaction to the best-friend type connection. They can make us feel validated, energized, strong, beautiful, heard, and so much more – if, and only if we are grateful for them. If we see them for what they are worth and not try to alter them into something they are not. Unless they are the type of connections we do not choose to have, necessary family or work-related ties. In either case, we need to learn from them and grow with them.

We need personal relationships! We need to know the person behind the icon, the thumbnail, or the pin. We need to connect: smile, laugh, play, talk, and cry together. We need to share our lives and let fellow humans come close so they can enrich us – then, and only then, is social media helpful in creating those honest magical moments. Otherwise, stick with the real deal, the best friend, and a true relationship – however long it may be.

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