I'm all for social networking, especially when it leads to connecting with like-minded individuals and furthering your professional growth. But I'm still not sure how I feel about connecting with people just to add them to a long list of friends. I wonder, do we do it just to satisfy innocent voyeuristic tendencies? Does it really fulfill our need to feel connected? Does it affect the meaningfulness of our relationships? And what can we do when we want to maintain a more genuine closeness with people that don't live nearby?
I turned to Judy Weiser, a psychologist, art therapist and founder and director of The Photo Therapy Center, with these questions and more. Read on for what she had to say and see her tips for staying connected through photography.
KM: How are today's technologies affecting the meaningfulness of our relationships?
JW: Even though technology has made it easier for people to connect, a recent survey (commissioned by Kodak), showed that this did not result in the quality of these relationships being any more meaningful. While most Americans reported that their network of friends has grown "wider" through technology, they were also very clear that this has not made those connections any deeper--and when nearly 70 percent say they believe there is more loneliness in today’s society than there used to be, it's important to consider effects like these on emotional "wellness"!
KM: How can we deepen these relationships?
JW: In times where busy lives and concerns about money can create barriers that prevent people from connecting, preserving strong relationships becomes even more important. The findings from the survey illuminate the unique impact photographs can have in strengthening bonds by bringing love ones and friends closer together, and providing a way for people to feel better about themselves and their lives. People can easily take action to make themselves feel less lonely and connect better with others by keeping photos of good times and loved ones nearby, and by sharing photos with others to show how much they matter to each other.