How Social Media Has Changed Relationships

Thursday, May 17, 2012 Posted by Shattered Paradigm

It is true that advances in technology for communicating with others have changed how people form relationships. Social media and other forms of electronic communication offer convenience, but there are issues that need addressing. Some feel that the art of holding a conversation is gone in favor of posting or tweeting on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Direct Communication

Face-to-face communication is the best way to see hand gestures or facial expressions, hear voice inflections, or see reactions to gauge the true meaning of the message. Although it does not offer the same advantages of human interaction or contribute to deepening human relationships, social media does add a layer of complexity to personal communication. In addition, many individuals find it easier to update a post instead of sitting down to talk on the phone or writing an email.

Human Interaction

It is important to form deeper human connections with other people. Unfortunately, social media does not foster the same type of bonding as human interaction. The social networking sites allow users to share and exchange information and media. Individuals who post on these sites sometimes lie on their profiles, and there is no way to know the real identity of the profile presented.

Laying the foundation for learning social skills involves using face-to-face communication and the lack of a sound foundation results in faulty communication. This is particularly important for young adults who are trying to assert their independence and create their own identity. Making a connection with another human being involves more than posting the day’s activities on a social networking site.

Contributing Factors

Some of the reasons why social media is so popular are the convenience and accessibility. At any given time, there is access to family, friends, coworkers, and business acquaintances who share the same interests. Similarly, there are new groups forming everyday attracting new followers to join and share their experience, knowledge, and advice.

Easily communicate with family and friends on the go with a smartphone, laptop, or other mobile device. Grandparents and other family stay in the loop with loved ones and avoid the expense and hassle of travel.

With busy schedules and lifestyles, it does not take much time to update a post on a social media site. However, there are good reasons for using these sites and individuals also find help and support. For example, when a person is going through a difficult time and needs support, finding others with similar experiences is comforting. In addition, there is the opportunity to start or join a support group to converse about specific issues. On occasion, there are times when posting on a social media site leads to personal contact. It has the potential for opening up the possibility of broadening a person’s life with new relationships.

Social Media Drawbacks

Communicating through the written word has its limitations and messages are usually short and choppy. When a post is long, others may view it as a rant. Words on a page fall flat without the ability to convey their deeper meaning, but it does offer users instant gratification. In the end, it is difficult to take back misinterpreted words once a person hits the send button.

Sadly, due to crammed and busy schedules, there is a tendency to multitask or become distracted while posting or tweeting. It is easy to miss visual subtleties and social cues because of the distractions. By no means should individuals stop using social media, but consider how and when it is appropriate.

It is important to communicate but understand that social media and other forms of electronic communication can never replace human interaction or face-to-face communication.

The value of communication is lost when there is no personal contact; however, video allows both parties to see, hear, and experience the communication. Using webcam, smartphone video, or Skype video is similar to sitting down and talking with a person. While it is not a replacement, video is useful in bridging the gap of communicating with friends too far to visit or when talking to loved ones.

Social media will probably be around for quite some time, but remember, it does have limitations when it comes to face-to-face communication.

Author bio:
Ken Thomas is an online media strategist and avid blogger who writes for Street Organ.


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