Do you remember how difficult to communicate with someone who was far away from you 20 years ago? At those times, phone rates were so expensive and letters took a long time to be delivered so it must be difficult to contact our families and friends. However, thanks to rapid technological developments, now we can communicate with other people as easy as turning the palm of the hand eventhough we separated thousands of miles and by different timezones.Social media is one of the technological developments that have a big hand in communication and socialization. Preceded by Friendster and Myspace, then Facebook and Twitter, and the latest one, Google Plus, social media has sparked social change. It allows us to communicate and interact with others regardless of the distance and time for business purpose, political purpose, or simply for dates. Below are some interesting facts about the rapid development of social media (Based on research in 2011):
- Twitter has reached 175 million users, 133% increase over last year (100 million users)
- There are 95 million tweets per hari, 250% increase over last year (27 million tweets)
- Facebook has 640 million active users. Half of them access it everday.
- If Facebook was a country, it would be the fourth largest countgry in the world
- LinkedIn has 100 million active users worldwide.
The data above shows that the development of social media can't be underestimated. Below are the influence of social media in relationships and social interaction:
1. Allows you to interact with many people
A few years ago, if you wanted to know your idols, you had to buy magazines, watch TV, or read newspapers. But now thousands of actors or actresses have Twitter or Facebook accounts which allow them to interact with their fans. You can also find out their daily life and activities by reading their Twitter timelines or Facebook walls. Not only that, are you a shy person who are afraid to approach someone directly? If so, then social media is good news for you because you no longer have to deal with stress and nervousness when you want to approach someone.
2. Expands your social circle
Social media allows you to connect with people and expands your social circle. Of course it has positive effect if you want to get acquainted with people from distant places or foreign countries.
3. Distance and time are no longer a problem
In the era of social media, a long distance relationship is not a big obstacle anymore (though it's still a problem). You no longer have to send a postcard to your partner who are working abroad every week because social media has taken down the distance and time barriers.
4. It's easier to express yourself
Social media provides new means for people to express themselves. Ordinary people, shy people, or people who are always nervous about expressing opinions in public finally able to express themselves freely.
However, it turns out social media doesn't always give a good influence in relationships. There are some negative influences such as:
1. Alienate people who are close to you in everyday life
People who get caught up in social media has higher risk to ignore people in their daily lives. Don't be surprised if you spend more time interacting in cyberspace if you get caught up, especially now that smartphone technology allows you to access internet whenever you want and wherever you are. You will think that social media interactions are sufficient.
2. Susceptible to bad influences
As in everday life, if you don't choose people who are in your social circle then you'll be more vulnerable to bad influences. In fact, according to John Cacioppo, a researcher from the University of Chicago, social media can affect your mood, depends on with whom you spend time and to whom you give your attention in social media.
3. Privacy issues
Having lots of friends in social media is not always advantageous, especially if you often reveal something that shouldn't be known by others. Social media can easily destroy your life if you don't use it properly because what you write, link, and upload can be easily viewed by others. You relationship with others can be hampered if you write something inappropriate. Also, did you ever realize that others can get to know you without having to frequently communicate with you? If you don't restrict privacy in social media, then it will only backfire on you.
The first conclusion is you should be able to balance the relationships in everyday life with relationships in social media. You should be able to make social media as a valuable addition to the relationships in everyday life, rather than replace it. The second conclusion is you have to understand what is appropriate and what isn't to be expressed. Remember! Social media will be very detrimental to you if you can't protect your own privacy.
Those are the influence of social media in relationships and social interaction.