How Social Media Impacts Social Interaction
Each day millions of people log on to their phones or computers and communicate with each other through chat rooms and text messages. Social media has gotten rid of the need to communicate by mail, enabling us to interact 24/7 with more people than ever before. This interaction results in more people being involved in an abundant number of relationships through technology. These social networking sites open up numerous connections with other people and information.

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Unfortunately, social media has negatively affected these interactions, leading to a loss of authentic dialogue, a change in the way people perceive each other, and an increase in cyber bullying. To begin, social media has caused people to engage in face-to-face contact less often and hide their emotions behind their text messages. In the workplace, the use of electronic communication has overtaken face-to-face and voice-to-voice communication by a wide margin.

This major shift has been driven by two major forces: the geographic dispersion of business, and the lack of comfort with traditional interpersonal communication among a growing segment of our employee population: Gen Y and Millennials. Studies show that these generations – which will comprise more than 50% of the workforce by 2020 – would prefer to use instant messaging or other social media rather than stop by an office and talk with someone. This new communication preference is one of the “generational gaps” plaguing organizations as Boomers try to manage to a new set of expectations and norms in their younger employees, and vice versa.

With these trends, business managers must consider the impact on business relationships and the ability to collaborate effectively, build trust, and create employee engagement (Tardanico 3). According to Paul Booth, PhD, an assistant professor of media and cinema studies in the College of Communication at DePaul University in Chicago, social media certainly affects how we engage with one another across all venues and ages.

He says, “There has been a shift in the way we communicate; rather than face-to-face interaction, we’re tending to prefer mediated communication.” Paul Booth states

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that, “We’d rather e-mail than meet; we’d rather text than talk on the phone” (Tardanico 3). According to Booth, studies have shown that people actually are becoming more social and more interactive with others, but the style of that communication has changed so that we’re not meeting face-to-face as often as we used to. That said, our interactions on social media tend to be weak ties—that is, we don’t feel as personally connected to the people at the other end of our communication as we do when we’re face-to-face. Booth says, “So while we’re communicating more, we may not necessarily be building relationships as strongly.” All of this information shows that people do not build very deep relationships with others and interact on a more shallow level. Another concern is that social media has caused technology addiction, when individuals spend more time with their smartphone than interacting with the people around them.

Bowman says, “It may be the parent checking his or her e-mail during a family dinner or the young college student updating Twitter while on a first date.” “For these people, they likely feel such a strong sense of identity online that they have some difficulty separating their virtual actions from their actual ones.” (Keller 2). These quotes state that people have become so connected with their phones that they lose their own sense of self. These examples show how a part of ourselves lie in our cellphones and social media in defining who we are. We are not only defined by our actions but also what we write and share on social media websites. In addition, social media has changed the way we perceive each other physically and emotionally, whether it be through a profile picture or how we word our messages. Forbes.com gives an accurate description of a simple conversation through text messages and how the conversation was perceived incorrectly.

According to Forbes, Sharon Seline exchanged text messages with her daughter who was in college. They ‘chatted’ back and forth, mom asking how things were going and daughter answering with positive statements followed by emoticons showing smiles, b-i-g smiles and hearts. Later that night, her daughter attempted suicide. Afterward, it came to light that she’d been holed up in her dorm room, crying and showing signs of depression — a completely different reality from the one that she conveyed in texts, Facebook posts and tweets. Anyone can hide behind the text, the e-mail, the Facebook post or the tweet, projecting any image they want and creating an illusion of their choosing.

Without the ability to receive nonverbal cues, their audiences are none the wiser. In addition, studies show that only 7% of communication is based on the written word and 93% is based on nonverbal body language (Tardanico 3). With most of our visible communication skills stripped away we are unable to express our selves effectively and cannot perceive emotions of others. In another online article from NPR a Facebook user named Walter Woodman used to pick through his pictures and only showed the ones that made him look good. Woodman also did the same with his interest and personality traits (Yu 1).

Social media has caused us to hide behind a computer screen and not show others who we really are. Through texting and Facebook profiles we lose a sense of who we are and give others a false image of ourselves. By providing a wall that kids can hide behind, social media harbors the growth of cyber bullying in children and teens. According to osteopathic.org, in addition to the physical and verbal bullying that may take place at school, cyber-bullying in the form of harassing text messages and derogatory posts on children’s Facebook pages is now commonplace.

Even though it may not take place in person, the emotional and psychological effects of cyber-bullying are just as destructive. Since new media and cell phones are harder to track and monitor, parents need to take preventive measures that can help minimize the effects of cyber-bullying on their children. Jennifer N. Caudle, an AOA board-certified family physician at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine explains, “Kids that are bullied are likely to experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness, and poor sleep.” Making the issue worse is the fact that such negative effects of bullying often go unnoticed, as many victims feel the need to conceal the fact that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed or afraid of further bullying.

Bowman says, “For example, cyberbullying has largely the same antecedents and behavioral, emotional, and affective consequences as does [noncyber] bullying.” “Yet the difference is the ‘more’—that is, social media allows for more contact, more communication, and in a more public manner” (Keller 2). In a bullying event, often the person being bullied can remove himself or herself from the environment, at least temporarily. “If we consider that bullying’s effects on an individual can build over time, then there is a real concern that increasing contact between bullies and their targets in persistent and digital interactions might exacerbate the problem.” (Keller 2).

More often than not victims respond passively to bullying and tend to act anxious and appear less confident. They may become quieter in class and, as a result, the bullying can become a hindrance on their academic success and personal well-being. However, social media sites improve socialization and communication between teens and adults in a variety of ways. Social media sites allow Social media sites allow teens to accomplish online many of the tasks that are important to them offline such as staying connected with friends and family, making new friends, sharing pictures, and exchanging ideas. Social media participation also can offer adolescents deeper benefits that extend into their view of self, community, and the world.

This includes opportunities for community engagement through raising money for charity and volunteering for local events, including political and philanthropic events. Individual and collective creativity can be enhanced through development and sharing of artistic and musical endeavors. Teens’ ideas can grow from the creation of blogs, podcasts, videos, and gaming sites. Social media sites also allow for the expansion of one’s online connections through shared interests to include others from more diverse backgrounds (such communication is an important step for all adolescents and affords the opportunity for respect, tolerance, and increased discourse about personal and global issues). Lastly social media sites foster the growth of one’s individual identity and unique social skills by allowing them share what music and movies they enjoy (Clarke-Pearson 1).

These facts show that social media creates a safe haven and important place for people to develop their own personalities and ideas. Even though these facts exist, my argument is still valid because of the fact that social media sites foster cyber bullying, loss of authentic dialogue, and alters the way people perceive each other. All of these factors cause social media to do more harm than good in that peoples self esteems can be lowered and that our basic communication skills are stripped away. Even the way people see each other through social media is misconstrued and gives others a false perception of ourselves. All forms of social media have been revolutionary creations and have given users access to a vast web of connections and new ways to stay in touch. These social media sites have a wide array of negative consequences as well as good ones including limiting our face-to-face contact. Without the widespread use of these chat rooms and instant messages we could gain much more social interaction needed in today’s society.

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