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Perspectives: Technology Can Help IRL Friendships

Gerd Altmann

Have you heard about the new smartphone apps that help you keep track of your friendships? With names like UpHabit and Dex, these apps provide users with a place to store information about their friends. Like birthdays, shared interests, and how often they get together. You can even set up regular reminders to schedule phone calls and meet-ups. It’s like a spreadsheet for friendship engagement. 


Technology has overhauled the way we work and the way we play. It shapes how information is shared and how relationships are enacted. Unfortunately, technology that was designed to bring us closer together has actually locked us into more isolated and self-contained lives than ever before. 


For the growing number of adults who were raised on keyboards and screens, those tools were primary means for forging relationships both platonic and romantic. Technology still allows us to enjoy virtual relationships that never require us to leave our homes -- or our solitude. 


While it’s true that technology designed to connect people only resulted in generating more “alone time,” learning that apps have been developed to help re-connect people is encouraging – even to me, a non-fan of smartphone reliance. 


Just like SmartWatches that remind us to stretch and breathe, friendship apps remind us to make time for face-to-face, heart-to-heart sharing with friends. And this underscores the value of emotional wellbeing as a key component of overall health. 


I’d like to think we don’t need apps to keep up with the people we care most about, but as busy as life gets, maybe an app would help us all be better friends – to others and ourselves. 


I’m SuzanneDegges-White and that’s my perspective. 


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