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A defining characteristic of the 21st century has been the invention of many novel technologies which have changed the way in which human beings operate.
One aspects of human life which has been profoundly impacted by technological advancement is communication. Communication has been transformed by technology and by social networking tools which have become very popular attracting millions of users all over the world.
Arguments have been advanced that social media and technology have a negative impact on relationships since they decrease intimacy. This paper will argue that social media and technology play a crucial role in enhancing social relationships and happiness. The paper will demonstrate that social media helps people to maintain their primary relationships and hence has a positive impact on happiness.
Technology Enhancing Relationships
Technology and social media have assisted people to communicate more efficiently and frequently than was possible in the past. This is a good attribute since Communication is the cornerstone on which all successful relationships are built. Social media and technology assist to foster and maintain relationships where the people live in different geographical regions. Through these tools, people from different countries are able to interact and socialize with relative ease.
Mukherjee reveals that technology such as the phone enables her to stay in touch with her sister who lives far away. This contact is very important since it enables them to enhance their deep relationship (413). Without technology and social media, communication between people who live far away would be rare. It would therefore be harder to foster intimacy and the relationships would therefore suffer.
Social media and technology enables people to communicate better by helping them overcome setbacks that are inherent in traditional means of communication. Research indicates that the anonymity which is afforded by online communication gives confidence to people with low self-confidence in real life (Griffiths and Hussain 564).
As such, people who are unlikely to create relationships in the real world can do that through social media tools. Wright suggests that the distance associated with online communication creates a feeling of safety that enables people to make connections that they would not on a face-to-face scenario (433). Social media assists individuals to experiment with positive communication styles such as assertiveness.
Social media may result in the enhancement of social lives by giving people who would never have met an opportunity to do so. While it is true that friendships in social networks may appear shallow, the tools enable people to socialize and keep in touch with friends whom they would really interact with in real life.
People are therefore given the opportunity to maintain friendships which would otherwise wither away without these tools. Social media also enables people to widen their circles of friends since it is easy to meet and befriend new people online. In the online environment, relationships can be strong since they are based on interests and personal attributes rather than physical attributes or even social standings (Albrechtslund 25). These relationships can then grow to become strong primary relationships.
Negative Impacts on Relationships
Social media assists in the forging of social bonds. Even so, the bonds forged online are not as strong as those made through face-to-face contact. Wright reveals that the internet results in people declaring friendships on the basis of very flimsy connections (433).
This is true since sites like Facebook enable people to be friends with people whom they do not communicate with or even share any interests with. In addition to this, social media results in the creation of many shallow relationships as opposed to having a few meaningful relationships in the real world. The intimacy that is present in the primary relationships is therefore lost because of social media.
There is a major concern that social media and technology poses a threat to the traditional fabric of effective communication. This threat is manifest in a number of ways. To begin with, social media reduces the time that would be spent on face-to-face communication. Wright asserts that the more time people spend engaged in their online relationship the less time they spend in their real relationships (433).
The real relationships therefore suffer as people use time and effort on the many online relationships which are mostly shallow. Another way in which social media negatively affects traditional communication is because online communication makes excessive usage of shorthand and informal speech patterns. Wright states that such a trend may affect how we relate to each other in the offline world with negative effects (433).
Social networking tools have gained great relevance in contemporary society, and are today an integral part of communication for many people. Without social media and technology, interactions between people would be limited and this would result in less happiness.
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From the arguments presented in this paper, it is clear that technology has had a great impact on human communication. From this paper, it can be authoritatively stated that social media and technology have had a positive impact on communication and by extension the relationships between individuals.
Albrechtslund, Anders. “Online social networking as participatory surveillance”. First Monday, 13.3 (2008): 23-27.
Griffiths, Mark and Hussain Zaheer. “Use of Massively Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games: A Pilot Study”. Int J Ment Health Addiction 7.5 (2009): 563–571.
Mukherjee, Bharati. “Two ways to belong in America.” Patterns for college writing. Ed. Kirzner, Laurie and Mandell Stephhen. Boston: Bedford/St. Marin Press, 2001. Print.
Wright, Alex. “Friending, Ancient or Otherwise.” Patterns for college writing. Ed. Kirzner, Laurie and Mandell Stephhen. Boston: Bedford/St. Marin Press, 2001. Print.