“Do we really need friends?” my best friend told me, and my answer was: “Of course we need them”.
He added: “Why?” so I replied: “because they can help us, they can teach us, they can support us, in other words we can learn from them”.
He said: “So, we need friends to survive”.
I did not answer.
That, my dear audience, was the moment I decided to become a sociologist. And now you have me here, giving a speech in Harvard about relationships and social networks. Since I left Harvard I’ve studied human behavior and how they interact with mass media. You may now be wondering: His friend was right? Can’t we live without friends? At the end of my speech, you’ll find the answer so pay attention!
I think we all know that globalization it’s part of our lives. From the moment we turn on the TV to see the news before school, on the radio on your way to college and even before sleep when you check if your crush answered your message. Consciously or not, all this sources of information form us an opinion, a point of view about some important issue. But there’s a problem. Not all sources of information are rich of objectivity and real facts. Have you ever thought when you are seeing the newspaper: “Is this real?”. If you have done that, that’s perfect! We must be active audience, we must think about what we are hearing. Of course there’s the person that says: “I’ve seen it on TV, so it must be true” or “They married on facebook, that means they are in a serious relationship now”. I would like to tell to those people, open your minds and eyes! Not everything mass media says is real, be a little bit smarter and analyze the information you are receiving. I know you are now thinking, what’s the connection between mass media and friends? That’s what I’m going to talk about immediately.
I remember university as the best years of my life, lot of parties, fraternities, friends, alcohol and couples. I know a lot of you are experiencing the same as I did. Mammals live in groups as wolves live in packs. As humans, the most important thing is to have a group, a group where you are accepted, a group with people you can trust. I encourage you, to make friends and try to be as much sociable and extroverted you can, because it’s the best time for you to meet people and make links that last a lifetime but never forget to be always you. It’s easy to identify the coolest guy or girl in the campus because it has hundreds of followers on twitter and even more friends in facebook. I was never on to being a cool guy. I known some classmates that were crazy for facebook friends and would kill for instagram followers and I was like: “Why so obsessed with being noticed on social networks?” and someone replied: “Because that makes you popular”, other added: “and accepted” and even the introverted guy in my class said: “and desirable”. I tried to convince them that not because having more friends nor followers on a social network will make them be more successful, because they were creating fake friends by acting like someone else instead of how they really were, and therefore they didn’t have any real group, but they didn’t listen.
Imagine a wolf, this wolf is very good at hunting so the others wolfs accept him in their group. One day, the wolf break his leg and is unable to hunt again, so it’s not longer “useful” so his mates decide to kick him out of their package, leaving the injured wolf condemned to live alone for the rest of his life. We can take that example and use it in the real world. Two days ago, I encountered a classmate that was like “the cool guy” in the campus while I was at Harvard and asked him to go for a coffee, I could notice that he was with a very low mood but accepted anyways. I remember he was always surrounded with people and I started asking how they were, he replied that after college he lost contact with them, so I asked for other friends of him hoping for a different answer but the reply was the same. Each supposed friend he had abandoned him. After graduating he had no contacts, so it was impossible to find a well paid job or a decent job, all the vacancies were occupied. He’s now working on a retail company selling fast food, although he studied to be a doctor. I really hope that I made you reflect about the importance of real friends, and about the information that mass media gives us it’s not always true.
I hope after graduating you are not a lonely wolf condemned to live injured for the rest of your life.
Thanks for listening.