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With the digital world at our fingertips, communication is often out of reach

Mid-afternoon sun blazing, you’ve endured a half-mile walk back home, you have a test tomorrow and three assignments due by midnight. 

Drenched in sweat, you drag yourself through the doorway, throw your bag down and kick off your sh0es; 12 texts, various Snapchats, several Instagram posts you feel obligated to comment on and a text from your mother asking you to call her “just to chat.”

Maybe I’m being melodramatic, but I am constantly overwhelmed by the digital age bombardment of any and every form of media imaginable; right at my fingertips.

We all grew up with some type of device within our reach at any waking moment, so we don’t truly know a world without smart technology at the forefront of our interpersonal communication. 

Hours are spent FaceTiming, texting and snapping, and that’s on top of the hours we spend in our classes and with our roommates and friends here at Miami.

It hasn’t even been six weeks since we all moved back to campus, yet I already feel my friendships from home are strained. So many relationships we form rely on each other to be consistent communicators, despite the distance between any two people. I have friends back home in New York, and even as far as California trying to maintain the level of communication we had a touch over a month ago.

But it’s hard! All the introverts have known it to be true for many years; constant communication is tiring. Especially when we are expected to be retaining and maintaining friendships in more than one location, while also juggling half a dozen classes.

The first week or two went pretty well, settling into school while talking to friends back home. It’s how it always goes, same as getting into high school for the first time; the first bit goes well, but not too long after that – a shift.

The digital age left behind college students, spreading us immeasurably thin to maximize media consumption.

If we keep downloading and using all these apps, we’ll never lose a friendship to distance ever again … right?

Now, I won’t sit here and boomer-it-up by going down the path of “You kids and your technology and your instasnaps can never have a real conversation!” 

In fact, in most ways, technology has bettered our lives and provided us with massive advancements, the likes of which were never imagined 50 years ago.

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But I must say, maintaining friendships while at college, and especially as an introvert at college, is harder than it was for the generations before us. 

Maybe our parents would call back home and see if someone could get on the line, or send a letter, but, for the most part, they would let themselves be consumed by the lives in front of them, simply to return back home at the end of the semester back to their old friends and click back into place.

The notion of a life where I can keep all my relationships as strong as they are at the start, yet after being away for four months sounds magnificent. I’ve already found myself diminishing friendships, even losing some after long periods of time, simply because I am strained by the expectations thrust upon us faster than anyone expected.

I yearn for the days of elementary school where I was still friends with everybody in my class after the summer, even if I only got to see a few of them.

I blame the digital-corporate sphere for pushing onto us the perceived need to be over-communicating with everybody. The strain on my friendships back home is the same strain my dad feels answering work emails at 10:30 p.m.. 

It’s just so hard – so overwhelming – feeling obligated to answer that text, that snap, that DM just to feed the machine that begs us to give it more information, more time, more money, simply to feel content with our relationships in this new definition of what it means to be “friends.”

I occasionally ponder the world John Mulaney joked about in his special, “Kid Gorgeous.” A world where you could say, “Well, let’s just not see each other for eight months and it doesn’t matter at all.”

@devin_ankeney

ankenedw@miamioh.edu 

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