More than one million young, college-educated Americans move across state lines each year, according to new research reported in The New York Times. I belong to this mobile generation, with each move forcing me to say goodbye to pals from childhood, college, graduate school, and beyond.
I am grateful to have several friends whom I consider kindred spirits—who I can call up at any time and talk to about anything, who listen closely, care deeply, and pray unceasingly for me.
Every single one of these friends lives out of state.
Because of cell phones and constant Internet access, that distance doesn’t matter as much as it once might have. Friends message urgent prayer requests and updates. Through social media, we can keep up with some of the more mundane aspects of each other’s daily lives.
When psychologists and anthropologists investigate how modern technology affects our relationships, they often note the sheer number of “friends”—the average person on Facebook has 338. And they look at ways social media help to create an ever-widening network of shallow virtual connections and acquaintances.
Yet for people like me, social media let us keep certain people as part of our inner circle despite the distance, thus diverting our energy away from newer, in-person acquaintances. In a paradox of the times, technology has helped this generation maintain emotionally close, long-distance friends while staying emotionally distant from local friends. We can keep the friends we found in college and graduate school as we move to different locations seeking jobs. Though we may make new friends locally, technology enables us to fall back on old friends far away when crises hit. Quick texts ...1