How Can Workplace Friendships Thrive Or Have Depth In This Age Of Social Media?

In this era of connecting on social media and chatting on WhatsApp, for someone who already struggles with opening up, it's extremely difficult to form significant bonds.

It has always been difficult to make friends for me. I am socially anxious and take the time to get to know people. I usually wait for people to approach me first.

I also had “so-called” friends, people who used me to copy assignments and get work done at university. This made me even more closed off when I joined my first job as an intern. So I was lonely at work for a long period.

I still managed to open up and found a friend after a while. We used to eat lunch together and share our work concerns. I was used to being lonely, but it was a good change to be with someone to lean on. I thought we had a good friendship. But as time passed by, she completed her internship, and had to leave the company. I thought we could stay in touch. But, unfortunately, it didn’t work out well. I tried to text her and initiate a conversation. When I received responses, they seemed like she was pretty uninterested. It was sad.

I decided I needed to get out of my comfort zone

However I realized as I graduated from university and stepped into the real world, that I had to expand my social circle. I worked towards it, but it failed. I got out of my comfort zone and made friends with a couple of people after a while. I had heart-to-heart conversations with one of them, Sara*. We spoke about how it is difficult to thrive as a woman in a men-dominated field. We also had conversations about friendships, relationships and pretty much everything.

But, as fate would have it, this time I had to leave the company as my contract ended. I connected with these people on social media. And I feel like now that I’m not physically present to meet them, there is not much of a bond and things fade away. What I mean is, in this era of connecting on social media and chatting on WhatsApp, for someone who already struggles with opening up, it’s extremely difficult to form significant bonds. I try to connect with these people by texting them, but it’s difficult to keep an ongoing friendship. It was like we were ‘work friends’, and now we’re connected on Linkedin, but that’s the extent of it. It’s tough for me because I look to form a friendship that lasts for a while.

Is my approach to work friendship wrong? I would appreciate any advice on this

I am all okay with having acquaintances, but as I am growing older, I look forward to deeper connections, people I can share things with and stay connected to. Everyone has their own thing to do. But if the other person does not seem interested, how would the connection grow? I have a lot of friends or acquaintances who I won’t have a bond with unless I initiate a conversation through text. And I don’t expect a message every day. Once in a while, checking in would be nice.

The whole journey was disheartening, but I will keep trying. I realize that part of the problem is my being hesitant to get to know people. I hope to initiate conversations and be open to forming friendships at my future workplace. It can be difficult to find true friends, but I wish I could stumble across someone who values the bond like me.

The silver lining and twist to my story is that despite not having a lot of friends, I still connect with Sara once in a while. She is kind and supportive. It won’t match the face-to-face office connection, but I’m glad we text. The only issue is that she could get busy at times, but she responds when she gets time. I had a difficult experience, but gained a good friend. I hope we continue to stay in touch.

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