Social Media Ends Friendships?

Everyone is buzzing with twitter becoming more used by everyone. Facebook has become the place where you find people that you never thought you would hear from again. Yelp has awesome information on local places and overall interesting tone to reviews. But, is social media really bringing us together or actually ending friendships.

I’ve been a web junkie since the early days of the world wide web. I remember when it was ground braking to have frames on your page and most pages hurt your eyes kind of like most myspace profiles do now. I’ve been part of several internet communities as both a moderator, member and lurker. I understand why having a low ICQ means something to many. I know what a BBS is, had my own IRC channel and shared files online way before napster. I have probably received more hoax e-mails than snopes has listed. I’ve had my own personal blog since January of 2004 and a personal web page since 1997. I have my merit badges when it comes to internet navigation.

During all those years I have learned quite a bit about netiquette and internet personas. I learned that the internet has its own tone and have met my wife online as well as some of my closest friends.

I am not getting on some electronic high horse here, just trying to set up my observations about a recent trend that I have been noticing. When it comes to connecting people that know each other in real life first, the net seems to have adverse effects. However, it is not the net as much as social media that is causing this phenomenon in my opinion.

Facebook puts a whole bunch of people you know into a bucket together. Then it turns the window that a blog used to be into someone’s life and it makes your internet presence a french door. Your life is now on display, who your friends are, what you ate for lunch, what time you went to bed, where you spend your free time, if you have a virtual pet. The last election let people know not just how I felt, but how those around me felt. Through me people connect to my wife and my college buddies as well as people that I went to high school with. Who you know starts to form people’s opinion of who you are in a very macro way. So far it sounds great, people connecting and learning about each other, but what happens when that turns ugly?

The first trend that created a bleep in my radar was the, so and so removed me, how dare they? Or what did I say? Some of it is simply a difference on humor, religious or political view, most of it is just that people might not really care what you have to say or think. Overall, most people that get a twitter account or a facebook account today are new to the whole internet thing, and someone that has heard it all just does not want to go watch the hamster dance for the 800th time. The reason we all have friends and get to pick them is because we find the interesting in some way, people we knew in high school or years ago might not be all that interesting anymore.

That is when drama starts, but in this new area of social media disconnecting someone is almost as easy as finding them through the people you might know. Back in the day where forums where the form of community communication, people cared a little more about being banned and learned by community policing. Today, you can just remove friendship and not hear from that person every again. The ugly side is the hurt feelings.

During normal face to face conversation we are more used to editing ourselves. Even someone as blunt as I am keep a lot of thoughts to myself. Not sure if people just get more free when sitting just in front of the computer, but thoughts and words that I know would have never been shared face to face seem to flow like a river.

Mafe recently had to deal with some of her friends’ girlfriends get jealous just because of a simple hello. Sponge probably ended a friendship over a mass e-mail response. I’ve had two high school friends already delete their facebook profile altogether because of people’s nasty comments. They were people I enjoyed being able to connect to, and e-mail for some reason is not as interactive as facebook seems to be. So is this social media thing really making true friendships or really just ending some already existing?

7 Responses to Social Media Ends Friendships?

  1. I miss the forums sometimes. yeah, I know they still exist, but many seem meaner today. Sometimes the whole web seems meaner. I’ve met a whole lot of close friends online and a whole lot more people I want nothing else to do with. also people get so caught up in everything – it can get so personal so quickly. Face to face people might roll their eyes and brush off a statement, but online they take it to heart and get so worked up. Then it becomes high school all over again with the “can you believe what he/she said??” posts and emails.

    Online communication is a double edged sword. As a teen my daughter got too caught up in the internet drama. Young teens and tweens can be mean enough without the anonymity of the computer screen shielding them from the hurt they cause.

    On the other hand, my older son has Asperger’s. He’s a brilliant trumpet player and a gifted programmer, but he does not interact well with people. Communicating with other compugeeks online helped him to form friendships he might have missed out on otherwise. Slowly, but surely it has started to ebb over into his offline life. He’s using facebook more now, but the people he’s talking to he also knows in RL. Blending computerized communication and face to face has been very good for him.

  2. I haven’t really seen anything too negative just yet and I don’t think I’ve been dropped from anyone’s list. Like my blog, I still censor myself b/c it’s public so I dont’ think I’ve said anything too controversial. What I have found is strange is the “adding” selection. Like, there was a woman that added Ted to her Friends List but not me, even though she’d only ever been around him with me (I think it might’ve been an oversight as she eventually added me a couple of weeks later, but I think it’s a little strange). Or, I’d always suspected that Ted’s former roommate didn’t care for me, and when I heard that he added a mutual friend who has hasn’t even been on speaking terms with in two years — and not me, my suspicions were confirmed.

  3. great post. lots of negatives in that social media craze. most of it is fake. people adding people as friends and never even saying hello again after that initial contact. that’s why i keep my friendships on facebook to minimum.

  4. Social media has made me more friends, good friends. And for that I’m grateful. Love ya!

  5. I like the post. I got on FB last year after Wiley and Cara kept bugging me about it, and I didn’t have a lot of people I connected with. This year, though, I found a lot more people I was friends with in high school (and one from college), and I admit that it’s been fun seeing where they are and what they’re doing. I’ve also had the best friend from high school friend me, but with the way things were left back then after a falling out, I haven’t responded to the request because I’m not really sure I want that person in my life, even if it is only on a computer. I’m choosy – I don’t friend just because I knew you – there has to be something there. Look at us – we’ve never met – but I like the way you write, and you like my comments (just agree here). I think if you let it, it can build friendships, but of course it can also ruin them, but is that social media’s fault? No. It’s us.

  6. My blog eneded at least one relationship. since then I stopped putting personal stuff on it, and even before I never mentioned any names and blogged semi-anonymously. I have a fb account but don’t make a point of chronicling everything I do and I didn’t friend many people. I found that there are too many managers from my company on FB to feel comfortable posting something meaningful.I only registered to look at other people’s naked photos anyway.

  7. I’ve made more friends through social media, but I have to say, there’s also a flip side to what you’re describing – when you comment on someone’s blog, follow them on Twitter, whatever, and they utterly ignore you? It also feels real-life crappy. I’m not talking about trying to “friend” a mega-blogger or something, but just another ‘regular person’… it’s kinda chapped my hide lately, and I find it starts to feel like the one place I hated most: high school.

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