Is social media destroying our relationships?

There is no question that social media has enabled people to be more connected than ever before. It has brought people and communities together from across the globe, but at what price? There seems to be an inverse relationship between the ease and number of connections and the depth and value of these interactions and relationships. I think social media has fundamentally changed our personal relationships and not always for the better.

Alone in a crowd

We have 100’s of ‘friends’ on our social media accounts but when was the last time you actually had a meaningful conversation with them? How many of these ‘friends’ would you call up when you have a bad day or ask to go out for a drink? We go out with our friends to have a good time, but the value of this in-person interaction is no longer determined by the conversations and connection that evening, but by the likes we get from our virtual friends on the picture we posted. We sit in a bar or a café with our friends, but instead of interacting with them, we are glued to our phones, more concerned about the approval and opinions of those we may never even have met in real life! We have lost the value in our relationships. Our worth is now based on our number of ‘friends’ rather than the actual value of those friendships. It seems like we have all these “connections” but we have never been more alone.

Social media savvy, socially awkward

As one of the last generations to grow up without social media or even cell phones I have seen how significantly these tools have changed social interaction. I think back to high school and just how incredibly different my experience would have been had Facebook and Snapchat existed at the time. Nobody had cell phones; if you wanted to talk to your friends, you actually had to pick up a phone, or heaven forbid, knock on their door! These days doing either of those things is almost tantamount to an invasion of privacy. A phone conversation has become such an intimate thing that it is something you only do with family or very old friends. We used to call or get together with our friends to catch up on their lives, to hear their stories, but with everything now posted on our social media, these conversations are now no longer necessary, we can know everything about someone: their family, their opinions, their last holiday, and even what they had for dinner! What is it doing to our social skills when our interactions are now limited to 149 characters and an emoji? Emotional intelligence is developed by learning to read facial expressions, body language and intonation. We are losing this exposure. What does this mean for the younger generations and their ability to build relationships and interact people?

Social media anxiety

We have all felt that jolt of excitement as we hear the ping or see the screen of our phone light up. That little rush of dopamine that makes us feel good. It’s addictive, we want more! We try to focus on other things, but we keep glancing at our phone. Why haven’t they responded yet? Why hasn’t anyone liked my picture? The minutes tick by as we get more anxious. We start running through the reasons why there is no response. The more we think about it the more negative they become, until finally that notification pops up and we have this surge or relief. We then wonder why we were so anxious in the first place. Sound familiar? This need for immediate validation has become so addictive that even waiting the space of a few minutes has become excruciating. We think that if we don’t get that instant response that it has some bearing on our importance, our self-worth. 15 years ago, if you called someone and they didn’t answer, you would think, “oh, they must be out, i’ll try again later”. Now if you send that text message and you don’t get that immediate response it begins this agonizing cycle of reasons why they aren’t interested in you, if you did something wrong etc. We make all these negative assumptions about ourselves and others simply based upon how long it took for someone to get back to us. There is now this expectation that we have to be constantly connected, everything has to be immediate. We are turning into a generation full of addicts!

Social media has irrevocably changed the way we interact. It has shrunk our globe and has opened us up to new ideas and opinions. It has connected us like never before. Unfortunately, as our world has gotten smaller, our relationships with those closest to us have become more distant. We are losing our ability to foster meaningful relationships and conversations. We are being sucked into the virtual world instead of focusing on the human one. This is not only changing our perception of ourselves and our worth, but leading to unrealistic expectations of our friends and acquaintances. Social media is an invaluable tool, but only if we use it as an extension of our real world relationships, not as a replacement.

How has social media changed your relationships? Has it improved them, or is it getting in the way?

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Is social media destroying our relationships? https://wordpress.com/post/algonquincollegesocialmedia.wordpress.com

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Social media has irrevocably changed the way we interact. It has shrunk out globe and has opened us up to new ideas and opinions. It has connected us like never before. But as our world has gotten smaller, our relationships with those closest to us have become more distant. We are being sucked into the virtual world instead of focusing on the human one. Are we losing our ability to foster meaningful relationships and conversations? https://wordpress.com/post/algonquincollegesocialmedia.wordpress.com

 

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4 thoughts on “Is social media destroying our relationships?

  1. Indeed – a thought-provoking question, and well-written! This topic is very much of interest to me as an advocate for mental health awareness. I read about a study done by the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health in Toronto re the affects of social media on mental health of students – and although not completely conclusive or measurable yet, the results are concerning. Students who reported using social media for five or more hours a day were more likely to report higher levels of psychological distress, poorer self-rated mental health and lower self-esteem. Perhaps like my favorite chocolate chip cookies, donuts and cheesecake, social media is one of those things that is great – when consumed in moderation? 🙂 Thanks for posting!

  2. I definitely agree that social media has changed the way we interact! In my opinion it is both an amazing thing, and a terrible thing. From a marketing perspective it is great. You can reach a whole ton of customers in a real time way. As well as an inexpensive way. It is a great way to interact, and keep your customers in the know. As for a personal level, it is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family who you are unable to see daily. But as you mentioned, it has definitely changed the way we interact with and socialize with the people right beside us. I for one grew up in the world of facebook, and later in high school, texting. You would go home from school, and a lot of the time just sit on facebook waiting for a friend to come on so you could talk to them. Or scroll through to see what your friends were up to. Because we really needs to hang out in real life, when you can know what EVERYONE is up to virtually. And when it is so much easier to say things behind the screen on a computer.

    It is also crazy to think that current high school students don’t even have facebook!

    This is a great post, and a topic that is very thought provoking!

  3. Very well written blog, to me social media has improved my relationships but it can sometimes get in the way, It allows me to communicate with my family that live outside of Ontario but it gets in the way when trying to spend time with family and friends, but also it leaves nothing to really talk about when in person as you know everything about someone from their posts.

  4. I would say that social media has actually improved my human interaction, as someone who was/is very, very socially anxious person talking to people in real life was daunting, excruciating, and something I dreaded on a day to day basis. But the introduction of social media to me at a awkward time in my early teen years honestly helped me learn how to build on relationships and hold conversations in real time.

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