Communication Breakdown: The Effects of Social Media and Texting On Relationships

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When the line at Starbucks is long, when class gets dull, when conversations get personal, when loneliness strikes, we grab the phone like an Old West quick draw. Though our generation is marked by social media, experts are anxious of its effects on relationships, specifically our capacity for communication.

“We’re setting ourselves up for trouble,” said Sherry Turkle, psychologist and cultural analyst, at a recent TED talk. “Trouble certainly in how we relate to each other, but also in how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. We’re getting used to a new way of being alone together.”

“From social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship,” Turkle said. “We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control.”

Students’ thoughts on conversational texting and social media’s effects on relationships teeter between convenience of control and the desire for true communication.

“I think it’s made it easier to hang out with people and make plans and talk to people throughout the day, though you may not be able to hang out with them,” said Haley Brisben, sophomore. “You can talk to whoever you want, whenever you want. It’s just easier to communicate.”

Senior Macy Brisben agreed.

“Some people are always on their phones, and it makes it hard to even talk to them in person,” Macy Brisben said. “Otherwise, you can just use it to hang out more and see each other more.”

Young people ages 18 to 24 are racking up the most time on the Internet. In the past year, consumers increased their social app time by 76 percent, and overall time spent on social media sites increased 24 percent, according to an annual social media report by the Nielsen Company. But the Internet’s most valued customers are becoming more aware of the dangers of overexposure to social media, hoping to improve their conversation skills.

“I think it (texting) makes it harder for us to talk to people face to face,” said Avery Zorn, sophomore. “We are a lot more comfortable in confrontation and talking about bigger issues through texting than when we have to talk to the person. You can just text them and not have to look them in the eye.”

Zorn and her friends gave up from social media for February.

“It really has affected us,” Zorn said. “We went on a road trip and none of us had social media. We had three hours of talking to each other, and it was really good. We were forced to sit and have conversation with one another.”

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source: The Arkansas Traveler  /  Madelynne Jones

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