Relationships in Real Time: How Social Media Affects Lives

Photo Credit: Katie Chandler

To follow, or not to follow: Twitter's effect on relationships.

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Katie Chandler, Staff Writer
March 7, 2013
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

Today, it is nearly impossible to tear people away from their smartphone, their bright computer screen, or their latest Apple product. Many times social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and MySpace are implemented into these devices (such as the iPhone Facebook app) in order for consumers to have easy access to everything their friends are doing, often in real time. However, the rise of social media raises many questions that did not previously need to be asked. For example, many people agree that social media affects not just their daily lives, but their relationships with other people. The questions, then, is how does social media affect the relationships between friends, significant others, and parents.

This year, Twitter has blown up, passing Facebook in the number of users. Senior Meredith Magee said that one of the allures of Twitter is that there is less contact between followers, therefore making it easier to say things without consequences. “It’s hard because everyone has their opinion on who you are and with things such as Twitter, you can express those opinions in a passive aggressive way,” Magee said (i.e. subtweets). So what does this mean for relationships? “Social media magnifies relationships. You always know something about others because it is all on display,” Magee said. Social media does amplify some of the personal aspects of relationships between people (keep in mind, not just significant others, but friends and family as well). The affection (or lack thereof) someone has for someone else is made very clear over outlets such as Twitter and Facebook. Senior Meredith Bennett seems to agree with that statement. “If you have a close relationship with someone, social media can make it worse because it allows for all of this little stuff to get in the way. Everybody has to say something about who you are and what you’re doing,” Bennett said.

On that note, social media and bullying seem to go hand in hand. The dramatic increase in cyber bullying has everyone demanding answers. “It has definitely made bullying a lot easier to do. I think people find it easier to say things over social media than to say it to someone’s face,” senior Caitlyn Thomas said. The passive aggressive nature of social media allows for things to be said that otherwise might not have been. People are able to hide behind social media because it eliminates the direct contact between others. “Social media allows for things to get wildly blown out of proportion. It’s like wildfire,” senior Anna DiGirolamo said.

Despite all the negative aspects, social media can also affect relationships in positive ways, too. “Social media websites help people connect and communicate,” Thomas said. Hence, social media does fulfill its purpose of connecting others, however it may not always be in the way the creators intended.

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