21 Oct 2013
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. 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 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...
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