There are a number of things that have changed since the advent of social media, and one of the things that it has done is changed how people communicate with each other. Instead of having to be around others, one can now ‘socialise’ online.
One can then message someone who lives just down the road, or they can message someone who lives on the other side of the planet. This has meant that one can now connect to the people they know no matter where they are.
A Different Form of Communication
Now, one can use words to speak to their ‘friends’, or they could just rely on emoticons. It can all depend on what they are trying to say and how much energy they have.
Based on this, it can seem as though social media is the ultimate tool when it comes to having fulfilling relationships. The downside, of course, is that speaking to someone over a screen is not the same as speaking to them in person.
A Poor Replacement
If one was to only speak to people over a screen and no longer bothered to speak to them in person, it would be similar to replacing a real car with a model car. In this case, it will look the same but it won’t be anything like the real thing.
However, even though one might realise this, it doesn’t mean that it will always have an effect on their behaviour. What this comes down to is that it is easy for someone to get sucked into social media and to overlook their real relationships; when this takes place, they may find that it is a challenge for them to feel good about themselves.
One will then be talking to people, but they can feel as though they are cut-off from their fellow human beings. Another way of looking at this would be to say that it is as if one is eating food that has very little, if any, nutritional value.
Words will have been exchanged, but one won’t have spent time in the presence of other human beings. This is why it has been said that people are “together alone”, and this can also be the case if one spends time with others but hides their true-self.
One Big Illusion
And in the same way that there are plenty of options when it comes to fast food, there are also plenty of options when it comes to speaking to people online. It can then seem as though there is an abundance of quality food and numerous ways to connect to others.
When in reality, fast food can’t replace real food and social media can’t replace real interactions. So, in the same way that it is not going to be much of a surprise if one is not in good shape if they live on fast food; it is also not going to be much of a surprise if one feels depressed if they spend too much time using social media.
In addition to the effect that it can have on one’s mental and emotional health, there is also the effect it can have on their relationships. How one behaves online can end up playing a part in how they behave when they are offline.
And if one has been using social media since they were young, it can make it hard for them to communicate with real people. In the real world, other people won’t use emoticons and they won’t be able to use them, either; they will need to be able to read people and to express themselves.
For example, if one has a problem with someone online, it can be relatively easy for them to deal with it. This is not to say that this will take place in a functional way, though, as they could just go silent on them.
Alternatively, one could ‘unfriend’ them or block them, and this shows how easy it is to deal with a problem online. The trouble is that when one behaves in this way, it is not going to allow them to work through anything.
A Childlike Approach
This can cause the other person to feel angry, invalidated, ignored, and disrespected, for instance, and it is likely to cause this person to develop a negative opinion of them. If one has done something like this they probably won’t care about what this person thinks of them, as they won’t want them in their life.
Nevertheless, if one responds in this way when they experience conflict online, it could influence how they behave when they experience conflict offline. One is then not going to be able to behave in a respectful manner.
An Important Ability
Human beings are individuals, and this means that it is not going to be possible for them to always agree with each other. Not only this, there are going to be moments when different issues arise.
During these moments, it is going to be vital for one to to take responsibility for how they feel and to respect the others boundaries, and for the other person to do the same. Through doing this, if one of their friends/partner has a different view or feels down or angry about something, they will be able to acknowledge what is going on for them and to work through it together.
A Deeper Connection
As a result of this, the other person is going to see that one values and respects them, and this is likely to have a positive effect on their relationship. This can be something that will bring them closer together.
On the other hand, if one was to invalidate what they are going through or to just ignore them, it is unlikely to have a positive effect on their relationship. This kind of behaviour is going to make it difficult for them to experience intimacy, and they could end up with no one around them.
Therefore, while it is easy to ignore, block or ‘unfriend’ people online and then to take a similar approach offline, it is not the kind of approach that one should take if they want to have fulfilling relationships. It can take a long time to develop a strong bond with someone and a matter of seconds to destroy it.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.