“It’s hard to find breasts in a world full of silicone.” Whoooaaaa, wait a minute! Sherman, isn’t this supposed to be an article about friendship? Yes it is, but unfortunately this opening line accurately describes our current state as it relates to establishing true and authentic friendship. It seems as though we’ve reached a point that “Follow Me” on social media holds more weight than “Befriend Me” in real life.

So ironic that the same technology originally designed to connect us closer to each other, has been perverted by many to focus on feeding our own egos and connecting us more to our self-centered delights. It’s no surprise why many are finding it so difficult to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships beyond the superficial “likes” that are given to a post. Imagine this, even in moments of deep pain and sorrow, someone will still find the time to click the like button on your expression of hurt over the loss of your grandmother. (What is there to like about that?)

It’s time that we get back to basics. The key to connection is conversation, the key to conversation is to ask questions and engage in real discussion. And because I’m not, at all, against the use of social media, I do think there are a few things we could do both online and in person to strengthen and improve our friendships/relationships. Below are my humble recommendations.

1. A.S.K for more information

While many use social media to express themselves and show the world what’s happening in their life; to improve your friendships/relationships you may need to become more interested in what’s happening in the lives of your friends. This will require you to A.S.K. – Actively Seek Knowledge. For example, the next time someone you’re connected to posts a picture about their trip, you may want to actively seek knowledge about what the experience was like, how did they decide on that destination, or what other places are they interested in visiting? Actively seeking knowledge demonstrates your authentic interests beyond the superficial nature of just liking a post. It’s something that you could also do with people that you meet in person. The more info you have, the more commonalities you may find between you and the person.

2. Reciprocate and add value 

When value isn’t reciprocated, energy becomes depreciated. One of the worst things you could do in a friendship/relationship is to be the person that is always receiving but never giving. No one wants to feel like they got the short end of the stick. Always assess whether you are reciprocating the value of the friendship. Ways to add value might be to share resources (No, it doesn’t have to be monetary). Resources might be informational or social. Maybe you’re aware that your friend likes a certain type of food, you might make recommendations of restaurants that serve it. Or you may find information about events they enjoy attending. Even if you weren’t interested in those events, the thought of sharing information on something they like would demonstrate your attention to detail and make you a value adder to the friendship.

3. Create Hobby Hangouts

It’s no secret that when we do what we enjoy with people that we care about, the experience is exponentially better. One way to create these peak experiences is to identify and plan what we call at AIMHIGH, Hobby Hangouts– mutually enjoyable hobbies that you and your friends could take part in periodically. The key to running an effective Hobby Hangout is to ensure that friends in the group mutually agree that the chosen activity is an enjoyable hobby that they could commit to, and then schedule the hangout to be carried out consistently on a periodic timetable. (i.e. Schedule a monthly game of pool to happen on the last Saturday of each month.) Creating a hobby hangout gives the friendship something to look forward to consistently, thus deepening the connection and bond among the friends in the group.