As kids, we probably became friends with the first person who smiled at us, shared their cookie, or told us that we were their best friend the first day we met them. As we get older not all of the friends we first met in kindergarten stick around with us. We all change, develop different interests, and we all grow differently. Due to this, we end up drifting off from some of our old friends and start to make new ones, who we can relate to and share similar hobbies with. A lot of the time, unintentionally, we end up creating relationships with people who are in the same social group as us such as same gender, race, religion, and culture.
Although it is important to have friends who are in similar groups as you, such as with gender and race, it is also important to open up and try to meet people who are completely the opposite from you.
When you open up your friend group to people from different backgrounds, you get to learn and become aware of different lifestyles, cultures, and traditions. Here are some reasons as to why having a diverse friend group is important:
1) Breaking Stereotypes:
When you become friends with people from different cultures or religions who you’ve never been friends with before, it’s most likely that all the information you do know about them is given to you from social media or other mass media sources like TV shows and news outlets. A lot of the time the info that is spread around on certain groups of people on media outlets is based on stereotypes. So, when you do become friends with people who come from a culture you know nothing about, you are more likely to see these stereotypes break right in front of you when you get to know the person.
When we open up our friend groups to different people, we are also more likely to become aware of the discrimination or prejudices that different people face on a daily basis. This helps us learn and become aware of our differences and similarities in regards to the difficulties we face in society because of our identity. When we become aware of different people’s cultures and religions and how they are treated in society we are also more likely to help other people of these different races because we now have a personal connection to someone who is also a part of that group.
3) Gaining knowledge:
Anyone can search for information on a specific culture or group using google. However, gaining knowledge about a different culture in a discussion is so much more effective because you are actually directly talking to someone who lives this culture every single day. It also gives you the opportunity to participate in different traditions such as going to their religious prayers, or holiday dinners. This gives you the opportunity to live and observe a culture or religion outside of your own.
So, if you ever get the chance, join a club or organization that focuses on different races and cultures to meet new people and to have a chance to learn about their lives while you also get the chance to teach them about yours.