Social Media Usage And Relationships

Social media usage has skyrocketed in the United States as a major form of communication between individuals and groups. Specifically, the number of Facebook users in the United States in 2012 was 163,071,460; this is 52. 56% of the total population, making the United States the country with the highest usage (Social Bakers, 2013). A concern is growing regarding the effect that social media has on relationships and the satisfaction men and women find in them.

For example, in a study by Laird (2012), found 24% of the respondents said they had missed out on enjoying special moments in person because they were too busy trying to document their experiences on a social media medium. The problem has become where people have to remember to “live in the now” instead of working to think up a clever tweet or Facebook update, or find a perfect Instagram setting. Based on worldwide data, Facebook users spend 10. 5 billion minutes everyday on the site, negating mobile use, which has grown incredibly with the addition of smart phones.

Based on this data, it means that essentially 20 years everyday people live online instead of offline. A survey by the social site, Badoo, was discovered that 39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than in person and 20% actually would rather communicate online or in text messages than in face to face conversation (Laird, 2012). Dangerous future implications are looming because of the dependency of social media on the lives of people today. The argument that social media is making our society socially awkward rings true as it we see the next generation beginning to struggle to interact normally in face to face interactions.

People are much more apt to be honest in a social media medium where they don’t have to see the reaction of the person on the other end. In face-to-face interaction, one has to think quickly and be engaged in the conversation in order to fully respond to what the other person is saying. In social media settings people can take their time in responding and think our different responses, or simply not respond at all. In fact, compared to online friendships, offline friendships involve more interdependence, breadth, depth, understanding, and commitment (Laird, 2012).

Another issue that arises is the construction of self-esteem/self-worth due to the use of social media. Laird found that 25% of the people he surveyed said social networking boosted their confidence, 26% concluded it helped facilitate new friendships, 83% said it helped shy and lonely people make new friends and 76% concluded that social media aided in finding old acquaintances. The introduction of social media is drastically changing relationships and the way in which people view and need each other. A main feature of social media is the emphasis on creating and maintaining relationships.

Social media allows you to connect with more people— it allows people to connect with others that they would probably never be able to meet under other circumstances. Along with that, is it much easier to approach someone one has never met and “become friends” with them online, simply by clicking a button. By doing this, one can view their profile and “get to know them” without even talking to them. The profile that people create ends up disclosing information about them that helps others evaluate whether they desire to actually get to know them or not; it also makes it easy to overestimate levels of intimacy.

A key idea in this form of communication that is not face-to-face is that, “we run the risk of alienating the people who populate our daily lives in pursuit of intimacy with online friends” (Jain, 2012). This is evident when people are “not really there” in a situation because they are on their phone, connecting with others on social media. This attitude of not being present relays a message that the person that they are with in “real-life” is not important enough to give all their attention to. Our world has become so used to multi-tasking that it is difficult to just focus on one situation at a time.

People are more susceptible to the Social Media Contagion Effect, as illustrated in research by John Cacioppo, who is a researcher at the University of Chicago. His studies deal with proving that loneliness is transmitted through social networks. If a connection on a social media site is lonely, the other person is 52% more likely to also be lonely. This idea also applies to other behaviors as well such as anger and hostility. A crucial aspect of the idea of social media communication comes with the fact that normal politeness expectations that face-to-face encounters, is usually not present in social media interactions.

It is much easier to be more forward and mean online because one does not have to deal with the reaction of the other person, or even see their face to observe how it has affected them. Finally, social media emphasizes comparing oneself with others, as there is always the need to have something new going on or have an “exciting life” knowing that people are always watching (Jain, 2012). Clearly, social media effect the lives of everyone in this day and age. Therefore it is imperative to understand the implications and even dangers of this for the satisfaction of relationships and ability to communicate with others effectively. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to uncover the relationship between social media usage and the satisfaction of relationships.

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