With the entire world celebrating Friendship Day with all gusto, it is but obvious that we should be talking about friends this time of the year. It is known that being with friends is the best therapy for every kind of loneliness.
Having one or two friends is important for everyone. Some people are a little different that way. They have their family as friends. They share everything with their family and the relationship is twice as strong. Whether it be your family members or your friends, it is important to have a social group. This group of core set of supportive relationships for an individual is known as a social convoy. While the image of a lot of camels travelling through the dessert or a group of navy ships sailing together for their sheer number might pop up in your mind when you think of social convoys, the concept is very much applicable on individuals. With respect to individuals, a social convoy is of people who become a part of your lives from the early stages and travel the length of the journey of life with you. They are an essential part of not just your surroundings but also your life as a whole. They can be both friends and family. In other words, a social convoy for any individual is their group of friends and family who play an important part in your life and are irreplaceable by anyone else.
The term Social Convoy was Coined by Toni Antonucci and Robert Kahn of University of Michigan back in 1980. Antonucci is trained as a lifespan developmental psychologist. “I want to understand how people grow and develop over time,” she says. In the 80s, relationship studies was not taken seriously. It was hard to measure relationships as there are no rules or codes in these. Everyone shares a unique relationship with every single one of their friends or family. It was thus that relationships were considered lightweight and irrelevant to Biology.
Antonucci realised the potential here and studied relationship in a method that was unique. It was a set of three concentric circles drawn by the subjects. The centre of the circle was YOU or the individual in question. The first circle encompassed of the few people who are closest to you, imagining life without them is difficult. They are the ones you would trust with your life. The second circle has a list of people who are close to you and yet the relationship with them is somewhat different them those in the first circle.in the third circle are mostly those people who are close to you but there is still a lot of journeying left to come to the first circle. The relationship can be positive, negative or a little of both. With time the placement of these people may change, some may not be part of the convoy any longer, some are new additions. These people form your core support system. They are the ones that you would turn to in distress or joy.
It is essential for every individual to keep this social convoy ready for themselves as without this the chances of being depressed is way higher. Loneliness is also a vital side effect of not maintaining your social convoy. You need not be overly social or partygoing to maintain a social convoy. A social convoy need not have boisterous party going gang. It is a set of people that you feel comfortable with. They must match your requirements of what you need from your support system. This mainly develops in the early stages of school or college. As ypu grow older, it becomes difficult to create new pillars. As a child friendship requires nothing. As we grow older we realise that even the humblest of us all cannot resist a friend’s request. Friendships start becoming a playground for dirty politics. Thus, as far as social convoys are concerned, school friends are your most important people in the social convoy.
It has been observed that people who have been taken away from their social convoy tend to suffer from loneliness, especially senior citizens. They are dependent on their convoys for a lot of things and keeping loneliness at bay is just one of the many things that a convoy does for you.
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