Myth Busted: Social Media Harms Real Life Relationships
Texting, emailing, chatting, IMing, tweeting, Facebook-ing, blogging, commenting, posting, updating, checking in, and tagging have started to dominate our social existence. Even my 91 year old grandfather is keeping tabs on me via Facebook. I now have more business contacts on Twitter than I ever did in an office. Social media has become central to our social existence. But how does an online social life affect our real life social life?
Some people wonder if that is affecting our ability to relate to people in person, or in RL as they say in WoW. Translation: “or in real life as they say in World of Warcraft.”
Out of the total time people spend online 14% is spent on social media. This is a rise of 6% from 2007. Social media now accounts for 1 in every 6 minutes spent online. It isn’t just Facebook either. Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumbler hit record highs for visitors in May.
The myth is that people who spend a lot of time online and on social media are becoming less socially adept and weakening their real life social ties. A recent study revealed the opposite is proving true.
Social media users have more close friendship ties than non-users. This is credited to the building of social ties through the quality and type of engagement enabled by social media. The ability to passively see what is happening with your friends lives, see their pictures, read their updates, wish them happy birthday, etc. fosters intimacy rather than inhibiting it. People who had previously been considered a weak social tie can firm up their connection through social networks. This is particularly true on Facebook.
Facebook is not only allowing reconnection with former friends, but facilitate maintaining relationships with people who no longer live in our geographical area. Facebook is like being in school when you knew what was happening with your friends and acquaintances simply because you all walked the same halls. But now instead of just knowing when someone was sick, or seeing their new outfit, now you can actually hear about real events happening in their life. This helps bring down the clique barriers that existed when we were in school and levels the playground, as it were.Continued on the next page