To be certain, social media has made it easier to quickly communicate with friends, family, and even strangers. We can post updates, send direct messages, and share and like other people’s posts. It allows us to quickly and easily participate in communities with like-minded people.
It also affords us the opportunity to stay more involved in the lives of those we care about. When we, our friends, or family move away, social media makes it easy to keep in touch. We can see pictures and videos, and even interact with them. There are a lot of positive things that have come out of social media.
It can also be valuable for business, serving as a way to keep in touch with clients in a more informal setting or to find potential clients through shared friends and common interests. Seen in that light, it can become quite the powerful tool.
However, when social media becomes more than just a tool for staying in touch, it can become a problem. While social media can be a wonderful way to share life happenings or plan events, if it starts to replace real-life experiences and face-to-face conversations, it can go from being helpful and fun, to toxic.
It can even go so far as to damage our conversation skills. Over time, we can begin to prefer responding to people from behind a screen, with instant responses. This unhealthy desire for immediacy, which can also happen with email and text messaging, while convenient, can cause an inability to develop deep, meaningful relationships. In “real life,” quick responses aren’t always best. They can lead us to behaving impulsively—in both words and actions—instead of taking the time for thoughtful consideration before responding.
Think about why you love some of your favorite shows, like “Friends.” While the characters on the show might make mistakes, they’re always there for one another because they’ve developed true relationships. Those close relationships, withstanding all of life’s ups and downs, are what make up real and meaningful friendships. These friendships weren’t built through social media, however, because this was before social media existed; they were built through shared life experiences and face-to-face conversation.
Social media is by no means a terrible thing. In fact, when used appropriately, it can be helpful, and even fun. The important thing to remember is that it isn’t a substitute for real-life interactions and meaningful conversations. When you use social media appropriately and mindfully, you can avoid developing toxic communication tendencies.
If you want to keep in touch with friends on a more personal level, consider downloading Circles, an app that captures the unique and special details of your friends, family or business associates and enables you to nurture those relationships through active engagement. Download it on the Play Store here or the Apple App Store here.