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How does social media affect real-life relationships?

Introduction

The advancement of technology has led to social media being a powerful tool for communication. Notably, social media has received a positive reception in the community and has changed the medium of interactions and communication among individuals. It supports the exchange of various formats of information, such as texts, photos, and videos (Heinonen, 2011). However, despite the benefits of social media, some concerns negatively affect real-life relationships. It provides a platform for inappropriate interactions that violates the confines of communal ideologies like marriages and courtships in real life. Research determined that about a 20% increase in Facebook enrolment every year was linked with a 2.18% to 4.32% rise in divorce rates (Irvin, 2019). Ideally, social media negatively affects real-life relationships.

How social media affects associations

Social media contributes to the destruction of relationships leading to break-ups and divorce. Notably, the leading cause is how social media influence the perception and psychology of people regarding interactions. In a study carried out in 2012, it was determined that most people using social media sites create a façade that is not real (Krombholz, Merkl & Weippl, 2012). This occurs due to their perception of insecurity and failure, where most people opt to modify their presentation to conform to a given social class. Moreover, social media becomes a platform that supports improper interactions attributed to offensive and sexual advances. As a result, people violate the guidelines in a relationship leading to breakups and divorces.

The use of social media platforms is linked directly to the negative relationship because of making unrealistic demands. Social media influences relationships through misguided perceptions and expectations of individuals. Social media has become a tool that promotes an individual to live in fantasy by modifying and limiting the presented information (Heinonen, 2011). For example, if an individual observes a couple enjoying their lives by posting photos of them traveling in different parts of the world. In regards to this, an individual will question the viability of their relationship and demand unrealistic expectations, which normally goes beyond their capabilities. The unrealistic demands affect relationships; hence, individuals break bonds in search of unrealistic ones in social media.

In addition, the negative influence of social media on relationships is supported by the platform being used as a measure of success. Notably, the prevalence of social media has made social acceptance an important factor that enhances confidence and raises self-esteem among people (Heinonen, 2011). Largely, individuals depend on feedbacks on social media sites to assess their success level and a feeling of achievement. Based on this, individuals tend to replace physical interactions with online responses to prove the quality of their relationship. Consequently, the strategy is disruptive because most input on social media is negative, thus influencing social relationships. Thus, over-dependence on social media as a determinant of success results in disrupted relationships where individuals do not value physical interactions.  

The solace of social media as a communication tool is a factor that influences social relationships. Social media platforms allow people to have extensive networks. In regards to this, people can share information with the previous as well as current friends and partners. The extensive network increases the chances of infidelity and mistrust where individuals may go back to previous relationships especially, when there is an issue in the existing relationships (Dolan et al., 2016). Moreover, the ability to communicate with previous partners through social media contributes to anger and cases of jealousy among individuals. Therefore, the extensive network achieved through social media negatively influences relationships, increasing the possibilities of divorce and break-ups, especially in situations where people misuse the network.

In a study conducted in 2014, there was a link to how social media influence marriages (Biarezky, 2019). The study integrates qualitative studies concerning social networking and marital well-being. A study conducted by the Departments of Social and Organizational Psychology was vital in reflecting the impact of social media on marriages. It was determined that social media was a causative agent to negative relationships (Biarezky, 2019). Among the 398 couples investigated, it was determined that addiction to social media affected communication among couples. In regards to this, many people preferred to spend most of their time on social media than to interact with their partners. Therefore, the study revealed the progressive destructive nature of social media on relationships in modern society.

A real-life case study on the impact of social media

There are examples that show the effect of social media on real-life relationships. Charleston presents different cases where social media is blamed on increasing divorce levels. First, the experience of Kathy in the article is a perfect example of how social media can affect marriages. Kathy and the husband have been married for about 12 years. Kathy becomes interested in the life of her previous boyfriend and decides to link-up through Facebook (Charleston, 2018). The two became close friends again and started sharing personal information regarding the issues in their marriages. Unfortunately, Kathy’s husband realizes that Kathy has been communicating with her past boyfriend. Kathy’s husband gets to understand that the two have been sharing information on Facebook.

The addiction that comes with the use of social media breaks Kathy’s marriage. Kathy realizes that she has an addition to Facebook and she is unable to resist the urge to talk to the past boyfriend despite the intervention of marriage counseling. The next time the husband got her communication with the previous husband on Facebook marked the end of their marriage. In regards to this case, issues such as trust were noted to be the primary factor contributing to the end of marriages. The husband claimed she could no longer trust Kathy, especially for sharing marital issues with a third party (Charleston, 2018). Kathy was sharing information about their marital affairs with the previous boyfriend on Facebook. Therefore, unhealthy interaction on Facebook shows the negative impact social media has on marriages.

In Kathy’s case, people get to understand the potential effect of social media on real-life relationships. The experience shows how social media results in improper interactions, which may compromise real-life relationships such as dating or even marriages. In addition, the social media platform supports adverse aspects like addiction, which affects the association of people in a relationship or marriage (Charleston, 2018). Largely, social media makes relationships unsustainable as individuals either lose an emotional link or get involved in a disruptive practice like cheatings. This connects with the research done by McKinley Irvin, which determined that about a 20% increase in Facebook enrolment every year was linked with a 2.18% to 4.32% rise in divorce rates.

Possible solutions to social media conflicts

The adverse impact of social media on relationships calls for proactive measures to regulate its use. People need to use the social media platform as a communication tool to attain a productive goal. For example, it would be viable for users to create social network sites for knowledge sharing and career advancement. As noted in this paper, the primary challenge in the use of social media platforms is improper interactions that violate the constraints of relationships and marriages. For partners or people who are dating, honesty and transparency are key virtues, which should be embraced while using social media. Transparency and honesty among partners will get rid of mistrust, which is the main cause of social media-related conflicts.

Conclusion

In most cases, social media has contributed to adverse effects on real-life relationships, especially through improper interactions. These unhealthy interactions influence the emotional link among partners and contribute to issues such as mistrust and cheating. In addition, the study has been instrumental in understanding the impact of social media on marriages and dating. The integration of a real-life example has helped reinforce the ideology that social media affects relationships and contribute to the rising number of divorce and break-ups. However, it is important for people, especially those in marriages, to incorporate transparency and honesty when using social media.

References

Biarezky, B (2019). 4 negative effects of social media on marriage and relationships. Retrieved from; https://www.bridestory.com/blog/4-negative-effects-of-social-media-on-marriage-and-relationship

Charleston, Libby-Jane (2018). Rise of social media blamed for increasing divorce levels. Retrieved from: https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/relationships/marriage/rise-of-social-media-blamed-for-increasing-divorce-levels/news-story/909fd12e6f48bf2087480a1203968322

Dolan, R., Conduit, J., Fahy, J., & Goodman, S. (2016). Social media engagement behavior: A uses and gratifications perspective. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 24(3-4), 261-277.

Heinonen, K. (2011). Consumer activity in social media: Managerial approaches to consumers’ social media behavior. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 10(6), 356-364.

Krombholz, K., Merkl, D., & Weippl, E. (2012). Fake identities in social media: A case study on the sustainability of the Facebook business model. Journal of Service Science Research, 4(2), 175-212.

McKinley Irvin (2019). Digital divorce: a guide for social media & digital communications. Retrieved from: https://www.mckinleyirvin.com/resources/digital-divorce-a-guide-for-social-media-digital/how-social-media-affects-marriage/

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