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21 Jul 2011

Are We Feeling Closer Than Ever

The Internet is a funny thing, it can make people Feel Closer yet it can also make people feel more isolated.  Personally I am a strong believer that the Internet brings people closer than ever.  The ability for social sharing makes it very easy to share personal information. I mean everyone fills in the info page on Facebook with their hobbies and interests, musical preferences and their favourite films.  It is this self-disclosure that scientists have realised is vital for feeling connected with people.  Through social sharing and social interaction feeling closer and feeling connected with people means that you are never really alone.  There is always someone at the other end of the keyboard, headset or webcam to brighten up your day.  Families come closer together because of this.  New relationships form and existing ones deepen and all because of something that wasn’t around when I was a kid!  I like comments written by strangers which strikes up conversations, I even searched my family name and found family members that I did not even know existed, I never even dreamt that they could fill in the missing information that I have been searching for.

Let’s face it, without Facebook I would never have known that there is a Stephanie Mamo in every continent in the world, that I have relations all across the world that I did not even know about but in one way or another we can all trace back to the same world famous family member!  I know things about them, what kind of things they are into and I can see pictures of what they are doing at home, wherever that may be.  It is the Internet that has helped us become closer to each other.  Through the World Wide Web I have become closer to these new found members of my extended family even though we have never met.  Through the power of social media and general online communication I have built up relationships with these people.  We chat on Skype or through Instant Messaging whilst having a coffee, its just we are thousands of miles apart.  Thanks to the Internet, it feels as though we are in the same room.  Our pictures and videos are shared online and the person who is looking doesn’t need to be sitting next to you on the sofa to look at your photos, you just copy the link and share it!  It’s all about the online interaction and its this responsiveness that ultimately helps us develop positive regard and mutual understanding.  When it comes to intimacy, it is frequency of communication that is one of the key components and without these important elements we would not be as close as we are.  I have friends online that I have never met but through the power of the Internet we have been brought together.  Talking to someone who has the same hobbies as you in a forum or a group on Facebook can lead you to have friendships that you never even thought could be possible.  It used to be so easy to lose touch with people, now its so simple to stay connected that soon there will be no reason for losing touch again.  Friendships are formed faster online now, more than ever and this interactive nature is making us get closer to each other every single day!  Its just as simple as clicking the ‘Like’ button on Facebook.

So I suppose that the flip side of this argument would be: Can the Internet bringing people closer together be a bad thing? The Internet may make you feel isolated; it might make you feel trapped and like everyone is keeping an eye on you.  It may even be that someone has used the power of the Internet in the opposite way, or a less positive one.  Maybe because of the Internet the things that were once in the past have surfaced.  People who you wanted to forget have got back in touch.  Someone you thought you knew online could turn out to be someone else entirely. 

The NIVEA million moments of closeness campaign is backed by psychologist Dr Geoff Beattie and he wants more people to discuss this topic with him.  He would also like people to share their own moments of closeness, it may be a group hug or a family picture.  There are 100 prizes to give away and Dr Geoff Beattie will be selecting a winner every day! You can take part at http://facebook.com/niveauk and help find out how close we really are.

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