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Social Media: Helpful or Hurtful in Relationships?

Recently, I read an article about the use of social media and how we can use it in a positive way.  Being a complete Facebook addict and nosy by nature, I’m always curious to see how people use this particular outlet to engage with one another.

The article I read dealt with friendships and how to make social media work for us.  Sadly, what I see are a lot of people using social media as a communication tool in relationships and it’s working against us.  The rants and on-goings I’ve seen on Facebook are astounding.

I’m not innocent.  I’ve vented.  I’ve thrown my frustration out on to Facebook.  My feeling is most of us do this because we are seeking support.  We hope that someone will take our side, commiserate, and back us up on whatever it is upsetting us.  We need someone to stand up and go “Hey!  I know how you feel and you are right!”  It’s only natural for us to want to turn to friends in time of need.  Unfortunately, there is a flip-side – the people who use social media as a way to get back at someone who has hurt them.  I’ve seen it many times.  Being honest, I must admit I’ve done this, as well.  These kind of posts are passive-aggressive and unhealthy, to say the least.  When we replace verbal communication with a Tweet or FB status, we hurt ourselves and ultimately further hurt the ones we love.

So what is the solution?  I’ve given it some thought.  I came up with talking.

So simple it’s mind-blowing, huh?

To share a personal experience:  my boyfriend and I encountered problems from venting on Facebook.  Big problems.  We found ourselves in this very weird place where we would be sitting in the same room, venting on Facebook, commenting to one another on Facebook yet not speaking one single word to one another.  WE WERE IN THE SAME ROOM.  It quickly became cause for concern.  What did we do?  We put down our cell phones and started talking.  It was not easy.  We had gotten so used to throwing it all out in a public forum that speaking personally to one another seemed a bit foreign.  You’ve heard how sometimes it’s easier to write how we feel instead of speaking about our feelings?  It’s true.  He and I are both this way.  We are writers and written words are what we relate to.

It was slow at first.  Attempting to talk seemed to lead to more frustration, interrupted sentences, fighting, sleeping in separate rooms, and still even more silence but this time without using Facebook because we made the agreement we’d not do that ever again.  So, no Facebook venting, no talking…let me tell you that things will bubble to the surface quickly and explode.  This is exactly what you do NOT want to happen.  Avoid it.  Take time to make rules for communication.  Rules are perfectly acceptable, even desired in any relationship worth working on.  Make that promise to NEVER use social media as a way to communicate with the one you love.  Promise to listen.  Promise to speak to one another only after you’ve both had time to calm down.  Understand that no relationship is perfect and there will be miscommunication at times.  That’s okay.  Work through it TOGETHER.

There is a very real and palpable emotional detachment when we use social media as a way to communicate.  Often our words are misleading and come across as colder than we intended.  If we are determined to keep relationships alive and healthy we need the emotion.  We need to feel the love, the compassion, the acceptance and we need to know we’re actually being heard.  Those things are basic human requirements and by removing them we’re setting ourselves up for pain and loneliness.

Take the time today and every day to TALK to the one you love.  You’ll be amazed at how much it is appreciated and simply blown away by how much better you both feel afterwards.  Trust me.

P.S.  I’m happy to report that boyfriend and I are good now.  It has taken us about a year to truly learn how to communicate with one another and it’s not perfect but we are definitely in a better place.  The hard work was totally worth it.

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2 comments on “Social Media: Helpful or Hurtful in Relationships?

  1. Social media also feeds on itself. It’s easier and easier to use, and the devices we carry make it easier to stay plugged in all the time.

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