Is Social Networking killing our relationships?

Can you remember the last time that you had a long conversation with one of your friends? I’m not talking about a whole day’s worth of texts, tweets or wall posts but an actual face-to-face chat over a coffee. I bet that most of you have to wrack your brains for a while, I mean why should we bother when technology and social networking allows us to have instant communication at the tips of our fingers?

When we first add someone as a friend on Facebook or follow them on a Twitter, it’s so easy to find out everything about that person if you delve a little (this of course depends on the amount they share) but basic things such as their birthday, job, interests and their relationship status. A stalker’s dream some might say but it also makes us become lazy with our communication. If one of your friends is a social over-sharer and she tweets and updates her status every hour of the day, then some of you might feel that you don’t need to text or call her to see how she is because she’s filled in every detail of her day for you. Even mere acquaintances can become someone that you feel you know within a matter of weeks because of their Instagrams and tweets.

Dating has also become increasingly awkward through social networking because no one waits by the phone anymore or arranges to meet at the same place the following week after a night out. You meet someone, you may swap numbers and then a couple of days later, you look them up on Facebook or Twitter. After a couple of months or so, you’re looking to make it official but in the realms outside of cyber space, nobody cares because you haven’t made it Facebook official yet. You know you’re together, he knows you’re together but as far as anyone else is concerned, if you’re not “In a Relationship” with him online then it’s pretty much non-existent. Friends of mine at the weekend said that they had been dating a few months before they changed their relationship status and said people had been surprised because they hadn’t announced it on Facebook early on.

Even birthdays, parties and invitations for random nights out are planned over social networking sites. When I’ve mentioned an upcoming event in person to someone, I’ve even had them turn round and say, “Oh did you put it on Facebook coz I might not have seen it?” Eh?! I understand that it’s convenient for people to just click “Going” or “Maybe,” but surely it’s slightly robotic and impersonal. Most people at work live through their Outlook calendar for planning meetings and to-do lists so why would we want to treat our relationships and our friendships in the same way?

I also wonder if it’s affecting people’s memory because sometimes we rely on social networks too much for even basic information such as friend’s birthdays and yes we’re all guilty of that one because I find myself regularly forgetting dates. Social networking makes our relationships with people convenient because we don’t have to ask or search too much for the information we need. It’s good in one sense because you can develop lifelong friendships at a click of a button but developing relationships with people is meant to be hard work at times and some sort of effort is required. During the week when you’re working or at uni, a quick text or a tweet is fine but it’s even nicer to catch up with your friends or your other half at the weekend over a glass of wine. Over-sharing information can lead to lulls in face to face conversations because you know that she’s been promoted at work, she’s been to the gym three times this week and she’s also thinking about taking a trip to Thailand. Mystery breeds intrigue and that my friends, is the beauty of real conversation.

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