When the word social media is mentioned, some people think of Twitter whereas others think of Facebook. Despite which platform comes to your mind when you hear of the word social media, some platforms are more common than others. The most common ones have more users than the less common ones. Consequently, their uses differ among different groups of people. These platforms were invented barely a decade ago, but since their invention, they have automatically impacted the way people relate with one another (Zeitel-Bank and Tat 1184).
On one hand, some people believe that these platforms have impacted relationships positively whereas on the other hand, other people believe that they have impacted relationships negatively. No matter the school of thought one belongs to, it is obvious that these platforms have transformed the way people relate. They have enabled people to come together, keep in touch and even do business (Rajeev and Jobilal 11). This research paper evaluates the effects of social media on relationships. The paper argues that social media has more positive effects on relationships than negative effects. Focusing on relationships, the first part of the paper starts with an overview of the studies that have been conducted since the platforms were invented. The second part delves into the effects with an emphasis on the positive ones whereas the third part concludes the paper by providing a recap of the main points.
Overview of the issue
Since the first social media platform was invented, researchers have sought to uncover the effects of social media on relationships. Some have chosen to focus their attention on the positive side of the issue whereas others have chosen to focus their attention on the negative side of the issue. Those focusing their attention on the positive side of the issue claim that social media helps people to develop social skills. A study by Rajeev and Jobilal in particular claims that people that use social media tend to boost their social confidence and improve their social skills. The study further claims that such people tend to maintain healthy relationships and a helping mentality towards their friends (Rajeev and Jobilal 14). With regard to keeping in touch, the study claims that social media plays a fundamental role on this issue. This indicates that social media plays an important role in relationships despite being accused of some few negative effects.
Those focusing their attention on the negative side of the issue attribute social media to broken relationships. By doing this, they give an impression that if there was no social media probably there would be no broken relationships. What these researchers forget is that broken relationships did not come with social media. Instead, they have been there and they are not likely to end any time soon. A study by Clayton in particular appears to attribute majority of conflicts in romantic relationships to twitter (Clayton 425). Although twitter might be responsible for some of these conflicts, it would be unfair to blame twitter for all these conflicts. Another study by El Khouli attributes all negative effects that face families living in Abu Dhabi to social media. The study claims that families that network online tend to isolate their children in preference of the world outside (El Khouli 88). The study further claims that social media tends to cause family problems. Researchers belonging to this school of thought also link social media to strong feelings towards online friends that are perceived as bad peers (Zeitel-Bank and Tat 1187). By so doing, they claim that such feelings affect social relationships negatively.
To start with, it would be important to acknowledge the fact that social media enables people from different parts of the world to interact with one another freely. It would also be important to acknowledge the fact that people from different parts of the world are able to meet online, date and even become great friends thanks to social media. In this respect, it would be worthwhile to appreciate the critical role that social media plays in formation of relationships. Indeed, it would be worth noting that some relationships that exist today would not be there if there was no social media. Consequently, even if social media has been accused of broken relationships among other nasty things, it has in one way or the other promoted formation of relationships. Putting this aside, it would be worth noting that through pictures and comments that one posts on his/her social media account, social media enables people to learn about one another before they engage in serious relationships. In a nutshell, people get to know one another and to choose their friends even before they include them in their profiles. As a result, by the time they engage in serious relationships they already know one another. Even if this might not work in all instances as it happens with deception cases, it works in some instances perfectly. By so doing, social media leads to serious relationships thereby helps in nurturing relationships.
Amidst the claim that social media affects relationships negatively, there is strong evidence indicating that social media enables people to keep in touch (Rajeev and Jobilal 11). Indeed, those accusing social media of nasty things acknowledge the fact that majority of the people that use social media spend most of their time online socializing with their peers (Ahn 1435). Inasmuch as this issue is seen as a waste of time by those opting to see it that way, it helps in strengthening relationships. Studies have shown that relationships are strengthened by the amount of time that people spend together. They have also shown that people need to spend time together to strengthen their relationships. In line with these studies, this is all that social media does. Accordingly, inasmuch as social media is accused of wasting people’s time, it strengthens their relationships. For the old friends that may have lost contact or that may be far away from each other, social media helps them to keep in touch. By so doing, it helps to maintain relationships.
Researchers that focus their attention on the positive side of social media, link it to healthy relationships. They claim that it helps individuals to learn how to socialize, keep friends and maintain good relationships. In order to acknowledge the good impact that social media has on relationships, people should look at relationships holistically. This means that they should stop limiting their focus on sexual relationships alone. Instead, they should look at what social media is able to do in developing other forms of relationships. In a nutshell, people should start looking at relationships as a means of helping one another. If people were to look at relationships from this perspective, definitely they will appreciate the good work that it does among people that interact without necessarily expecting anything from one another. With regard to this issue, a study conducted by Rajeev and Jobilal establishes that most people that use social media tend to have a helping mentality towards their online friends. The study also establishes that majority of the people that use social media tend to be hospitable and they focus on maintaining good relationships (Rajeev and Jobilal 14). Based on this fact, it is evident that social media helps in promoting good relationships. It is also evident that social media helps in nurturing some social skills that are good for maintaining relationships.
On the other hand, inasmuch as social media has been accused of impacting the lives of young people negatively, it should be noted that social media has been instrumental in developing social skills. From a psychological viewpoint, social skills are important in developing and maintaining relationships. They enable people that would not be able to socialize to learn how to socialize. In addition, they give these people chances to engage in relationships. With regard to this issue, it should be noted that social media plays a critical role in identity formation especially among the introvert people. These people as a study conducted in Greece indicates feel comfortable socializing online before committing to serious relationships (Issa, Pedro and Piet 140). By doing this, social media helps in nurturing relationships.
Some studies link social media to majority of conflicts that occur as people relate with one another. Such studies argue that majority of people that date online through social media end up in broken relationships than their counterparts that date otherwise. A study by Clayton in particular claims that majority of people that date using social media platforms end up in broken relationships. At the time of making this claim this study had 581 respondents aged between eighteen years and sixty-seven years (Clayton 425). Inasmuch as the results of this study look realistic, it should be noted that broken relationships did not come with social media. If anything, broken relationships have been there and they are not likely to end any time soon. At the same time, the fact that broken relationships might have increased with the invention of social media does not mean that social media breaks relationships. Consequently, linking social media to high number of broken relationships is a misguided argument that has no basis. As far as the author of this research paper is concerned, social media enhances relationships. It enables people that are far away from each other to relate and even become great friends. Based on this fact, social media impacts relationships positively rather than negatively.
At the same time, social media strengthens interpersonal relationships. It is among the most accessible platforms. More importantly, unlike other social places that require one to have money for transport and gate fee, social media does not require a lot of money. At times, it is even free thereby young people that do not have money to spend at social places can simply access social media platforms and socialize. By so doing, they strengthen their relationships by simply being available to interact. At other times, social media works best for the marginalized people that sometimes feel isolated. It helps them to socialize and maintain relationships (Issa, Pedro and Piet 140).
Some people argue that social media affects the way people socialize with one another negatively. However, it should be noted that man is a social being (Zeitel-Bank and Tat 1184). Consequently, in the presence or absence of social media, people would still socialize. It should also be noted that social media does not bring anything new to man. All that it does is to introduce a new mechanism through which people socialize as they relate with one another. Given that social media provides a new platform through which people socialize as they relate with one another then social media impacts social life positively.
Despite the fact that social media has been accused of the wrong things to do with relationships, it should be noted that majority of these things did not come with social media. Instead, most of these things have been there and there is no guarantee that they would not be there if social media was to be eliminated. In contrast to this view, it would be important to acknowledge the fact that social media has brought new ways of keeping in touch as well as relating. Furthermore, it should be noted that with social media people have acquired new ways of socializing, doing business and connecting with one another. By so doing, social media has helped to maintain and advance relationships. In addition, it has provided a mechanism through which people build relationships. In this respect, it would be unimaginable to live in a world without social media because people would not be able to socialize when they want and in different forms. Consequently, if people were to focus their attention on using social media for what it was meant for, there would be more healthy relationships.
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