The most distinguishing characteristic of the modern age is the technological advancements that have taken form in the world today. The technological revolution is marked by the creation of the internet and the World Wide Web as well as the innovative steps that have been taken since. The creation and expansion of the internet has enabled the world to evolve into a global village. In this context, people from all over the world are able to share ideas, opinions and suggestions through social media. In addition to this, it provides an easier and more accessible way to socialize and understand other individuals’ way of life without actual physical contact. Thanks to the internet and social media platforms, individuals have a readily available source of information unlike in the past few decades where information was fairly restricted to broadcasting networks such as the television, radio and newspapers. In addition to this, the business world has been in a gradual shift to fit the technological era. Buying and selling items, organizing and conducting meetings as well as managing and co-ordinating properties from anywhere in the world has been made convenient through internet services. However, the technological age is slowly shifting the value of interpersonal communication and relationships such that many individuals in the society feel a much greater bond to their devices than the people around them (Sarvamangala, 2016). This begs the question of whether social media has enhanced or hindered interpersonal relationships. This paper seeks to understand the pros and cons of social media in the world today and the influence it holds over interpersonal relationships.
With the help of social media platforms such as Face Book, Twitter, Instagram, Skype and many others, the view of distance between individuals in the world is gradually becoming a non-issue as the world has transformed into a global village. This tight network of individuals from all over the world through an instrument of instant connection has made long distance communication easier and more efficient. Social media platforms provide the sense of realization that all one has to do to communicate to another individual across the world is through a click of a button. Social media platforms have also become a venue for individuals to interact and share opinions and views with celebrities and other high profile individuals such as political leaders. Through such channels, individuals feel that they can relate to these high profiled people without really having a one on one sit down with them. Social media helps the users to voice out their opinions and ideas on a larger scale of audience that extends across international borders.
The social media is a great source of information. In the world today, most people below the age of thirty five get about 80% of information needed through the social media including world and business news. In this sense, other media platforms such as the newspapers and television are becoming redundant by the day. Social media platforms offer a coverage of news and information in a way that is convenient and effective since all information required is within the capabilities of a person’s communication device of choice. With social media platforms such as skype, one is able to video conference with anyone around the world as well as keep in touch with loved ones far away. In family settings, in the current world, parents and their children are able to interact through social media in a consistent pattern. This has brought rise in interpersonal relationships as communication methods are convenient and easily manageable due to the fact that these two generations of human beings are able to have a middle ground of communicating that suits them both. Moreover, due to the effective communication that is provided for in social media platforms, social media presents vast opportunities for advertising and marketing of products across international waters.
So, has social media enhanced or hindered interpersonal relationships? A recent trend has been slowly adjusting itself into everyday living among individuals in the society whereby people are more focused on what their virtual social life has to offer rather than what the physical surroundings present them. Research on the issue reveals that most teenagers today face trouble in improving their communication skills as more often than not, they prefer relating with people on social media as opposed to interacting with physical people in day to day life (Valkenburg, 2006). In addition to this, many users of social media at times fail to differentiate between virtual relationships and actual physical relationships and may go a step further to try and connect with people over social media in a more intimate way. This leaves a pool of consequences that are beyond the individual’s control. Such interactions may lead to the individual being a victim of ‘cat-fishing’ which has become rampant nowadays where naïve social media users are conned out of their money or even kidnapped as a result of putting too much trust on a person that they meet on social media.
It is a growing practice to find a coffee house or café full of people but very few of them are interacting on a personal basis. This is because most of them are busy chatting up people on social media and disregarding any physical connections that are around them. By losing the sense of interpersonal communications and basing most of the interactions done on a daily basis solely on social media, an individual begins to alienate people around them and becomes a stranger even to loved ones (Sparrowe, 2001).
The issue of an individual’s privacy is one that cannot be overlooked while discussing the effects of social media. It is a notable requirement for any social media user to create and maintain a profile in their chosen social media platform. Although many users often falsify information about themselves, others tend to give a true description of themselves on social media. This poses a security risk to such people as they often fall prey to cybercrimes that include cons and identity theft. The young generation is exposed to certain ideologies and information that holds negative influence in the development of their mind sets (Shalley, 2004). This may become unhealthy for the teenager or young adult and may lead to negative behaviour and bad habits such as alcoholism, drugs and substance abuse as well as violent tendencies.
In conclusion, due to technological advancements in the world today, the internet has led to the creation of social media where people are able to go online and interact with other individuals from all over the world. Through such interactions, the world has become a global village where people are able to socially network and share their ideas and views from anywhere in the world. The various social media platforms have enabled people to open up their minds to the cultures and ways of life of other individuals from all ends of the world. Social media opens up the opportunity for members of the society to have discussions with the celebrities and influential people. Also, social media provides a podium for business ventures to thrive as the market presented is vast and full of possibilities. Individuals are able to market and advertise products on social media which more often than not turns a hefty profit for individuals. However, social media may also be a deterrent to interpersonal relationships between people as social media users often opt to engage in conversations with virtual people rather than one on one talks with people around them. In addition to this, social media is seen to have negative effects on the young generation as it inhibits their communication skills as teenagers spend more time on social media than interacting with people in their surroundings (Valkenburg, 2011). Furthermore, some contents laid out on social media may have a negative impact on teenagers and may lead them to certain behaviours that are immoral and that bear disastrous outcomes. With this in mind, it is safe to conclude that although social media has brought about an age of efficient and effective communication in the world today, it may however hinder interpersonal relationships.
Sarvamangala, D. (2016). Effects of Social Media. International Journal Of Scientific Research And Education, 4(06).
Shalley, C. E., & Gilson, L. L. (2004). What leaders need to know: A review of social and contextual factors that can foster or hinder creativity. The Leadership Quarterly, 15(1), 33-53.
Sparrowe, R. T., Liden, R. C., Wayne, S. J., & Kraimer, M. L. (2001). Social networks and the performance of individuals and groups. Academy of management journal, 44(2), 316-325.
Valkenburg, P. M., & Peter, J. (2011). Online communication among adolescents: An integrated model of its attraction, opportunities, and risks. Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(2), 121-127.
Valkenburg, P. M., Peter, J., & Schouten, A. P. (2006). Friend networking sites and their relationship to adolescents’ well-being and social self-esteem. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 9(5), 584-590.