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Social Media Hindrance on Interpersonal Relationships

Social media has made communication between people in different regions very easy; however, it has altered offline interactions as many people are enveloped in social internet sites. The result has been a hindrance to good interpersonal relations as many users of social media lack the necessary skills for offline interactions. Thus, the argument is that social media has become a hindrance to interpersonal relationships. This paper substantiates the argument, considers the objections, and defends the position that the increased use of social media has harbored the physical interactions which are necessary for good interpersonal relationships between humans.

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The argument presented in this paper is based on the following premises:

  • P1: Social media only provides virtual interactions that cannot promote real interpersonal relationships.
  • P2: The online platforms provided by social media encourage posting of profiles that are false; in fact, most people’s Internet personas are just a shadow of their real-life selves.
  • P3: Sharing information on social media negates some crucial principles of communication that are required for understanding and strengthening interpersonal relationships.
  • C: Based on the premises, relying on social media as the modern platform for interaction hurts interpersonal relationships.

The argument presented in this paper is inductive; the three premises provide reasons that support the thesis that social media hinder interpersonal relationships. Each premise is supported by a context in which social media has negated the reality associated with offline interactions.

In the first premise, social media only provides virtual interactions that cannot promote real interpersonal relationships; the word real is used to denote offline interactions that are characterized by face-to-face communication. The premise is inclined to the fact that social media has significantly reduced the frequency of physical communication, which plays a crucial role in the development of social mannerisms that strengthen the ability to maintain interpersonal relationships.

The second premise builds on the first as it exemplifies how social media has promoted untruthful means of creating relationships in which peoples’ social media personas are just a shadow of the real selves. Subsequently, the third premise points out that social media has affected key tenets of communication that are important in fostering understanding and strengthening the relationships between individuals.

The first premise that social media only provides virtual interactions that cannot promote real interpersonal relationships has been evidenced by various studies on the effects of social media on relationships. According to Twenge (2013), many young people spend more time communicating online than they do in other engagements in public life. As a result, there is evidence that young people’s civic engagement, political engagement, and empathy for others have greatly declined, which shows the consequences of social media on public life.

Also, Twenge (2013) pointed out that increased use of the internet has a high likelihood of leading to antisocial behaviors and mental health issues. For instance, a study carried out at Michigan State University in 2006 showed that students who spent a lot of time on Facebook had broader but weaker relationships. This implies that despite social media opening an individual’s world too many friends, the quality of friendship is negatively affected.

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The second premise, that online platforms provided by social media encourage posting of profiles that are false; in fact, most people’s Internet personas are a shadow of their real-life selves, denotes psychological and emotional vulnerability of the social media users which at long last impacts negatively on the offline social interactions. According to Baek, Bae, and Jang (2013), networking sites enable users to share thoughts and make friends online without offline encounters. However, some of the thoughts and information exchanged online are not true; hence, fostering false relationships. It is important to note that human relationships that are based on offline encounters enhance psychological wellbeing, unlike social media interactions that do not solve loneliness or foster belongingness.

The third premise that sharing information on social media negates some crucial principles of communication that are required for understanding and strengthening interpersonal relationships is based on the understanding that human interactions are affected by many factors that sometimes are dictated by cultural orientation. For instance, it is through physical interactions that people learn from each other, and understand the different behaviors that do not lurk in untrue profiles, and hence, promote healthy social manners.

A counter-argument is that social media play a great role in connecting people in the globalized society and enhance interpersonal relationships. For instance, Lee and Jang (2013) noted that online communications are mutually interactive and interpersonal just as face-to-face or offline interactions. Also, it has been argued that the interactions on social media strengthen existing relationships and are the basis for the facilitation of offline meetings.

For example, online dating through social media has been found to lead to real relationships that result in marriages. Also, it has been pointed out that social media promotes interpersonal relationships. An example floated in this context is when couples or friends are not physically together; they can keep a mutual communication that strengthens their relationships. This denounces social media as a hindrance to interpersonal relationships and presents it as a fortifier of social bonding.

This is based on the fact that social media gives an alternative means of interaction in the busy modern world where physical presence is limited. As a result, the users of social media are given an alternative to foster their interpersonal interactions through the use of social media. The result is that the users of the media have become more attentive to their preferred social network sites and are normally afraid that abstinence from the sites is likely to hurt established reciprocal relationships.

In response to the objection, it is important to consider the tenets of interpersonal relationships and how they impact on the lives of individuals. Whereas it is true that social media broadens the scope of one’s friends and provides the basis for meeting old comrades online, the resulting offline interactions are very minimal. Also, being in constant communication with an unknown person over the web does not promote interpersonal interaction skills.

Interpersonal relationships should be based on psychodynamic sensibilities that uphold psychological and emotional wellbeing, which are only realized through offline interactions. Stadter (2013) acknowledged that social media negatively “affect such core dimensions of experience as identity, intimacy, awareness of the ‘otherness’ of others, death and mourning, conflict, the perception of time, play, creativity, and privacy” (p.3). The assertion signifies that the reciprocal relationship that forms the basis for the objection may not be realized fully if the key constructs of the interpersonal relationships are to be considered.

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In conclusion, even though there are many avenues of life where social media has revolutionalized the way we do things, in terms of interpersonal interactions, there is the need for the users of the social media to strike a balance between real physical interactions with the loved ones and the virtual friends. This will ensure that social behaviors that are core to an integrated society are upheld as there is nothing like face-to-face interaction that is a hallmark of interpersonal relations.

References

Baek, Y. M., Bae, Y., & Jang, H. (2013). Social and parasocial relationships on social network sites and their differential relationships with users’ psychological well- being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(7), 512-517.

Lee, E., & Jang, J. (2013). Not so imaginary interpersonal contact with public figures on social network sites: how affiliative tendency moderates its effects. Communication Research, 40(1), 27-51.

Stadter, M. (2013). The influence of social media and communications technology on self and relationships. London: Karnac Books.

Twenge, J. M. (2013). Does online social media lead to social connection or social disconnection? Journal of College and Character, 14(1), 11-20.

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