When we analyze the term “social media” it means the social networking websites such as Facebook, PinInterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc. that have increased the social networking of individuals and kept them linked together. The term social network was first coined by J.A. Barnes in the year 1960 which describe the link between family members, people at work, different social interactions so that appraisal and emotional support can be developed. It was considered that social networks will play an integral role in enhancing the communication level within people and will change the course of how organizations are operated (Bo Fu, 2007).
These social networking sites are designed to keep people in contact with each other, post their status updates, discuss their feelings and emotions and share their views on various forums. Hence, the growing trend and the need of current time has increased people’s interest and attraction towards these social networking sites. The issue with these social networks is that they have increased the phenomenon of digital word of mouth in comparison to the face to face communication that was encouraged before (Shama, 2013).
There is certainly no doubt that networking media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, etc. keeps one continuously connected with each other and also distant friends and family, old colleagues can stay in touch with each other through personal profiles. Also, people who do not know each other, but share common interests, also tend to communicate with each other on various blogs and social pages and groups become friends and interact with each other. This still does not encourage the face to face communication between people (Maura, 2013).
Hence, it can be clearly said that the communication during the digital technology age has encouraged distant relationships, and the trend of meeting and communication personally with one another has decreased significantly. This paper will argue that this has negatively impacted the way people now communicate with each other and has reduced the opportunity to meet each other like they used to before (Trisha, 2012).
Negative impact of social media on communication
The paper will present an argument against the impact of social media on interactions and communication among people. This trend has especially impacted the children who are more focused and attracted towards the use of latest technology rather than interacting with other people of their age group.
There was an article published in the Wall Street Journal that in 2009 on average teens received and sent more than 2000 text messages and spends more than nine hours per week interacting with their friends, family members and surfing various blog sites on social media websites (Bauerlein, 2009).
This trend is a cause of concern in the experts as they believe that the intense usage of social media is reducing personal interactions and relationships among people as they now avoid interacting with each other, are becoming less conscious and less confident as they are losing their abilities to communicate with others. Hence, it can be clearly assumed that the rise in social media usage has reduced face to face interactions and reduced human gathering which have taken a seat at the back and people are emotionally detached from each other (Bauerlein, 2009).
With the rise in social media, the human race is highly interconnected with each other and there is no doubt about it, but at the same time it has challenged the very existence of the human society and the level of communication and has a reduced focus on the traditional means of communication.
The rise of social media has not only determined the type and amount of content/ information that should be shared with each other, but also it has negatively impacted the way people understand and interact with each other especially those who belong to different cultures, religion, and ethnic groups. The new culture that is evolving from the social media has increased the continuity gap between the innovations and important traditions that exists within various cultures (Guo-Ming Chen, 2012).
When the influence of social media was not present, the traditions and communication level within different cultural groups coexisted in a beautifully dynamic and synchronized manner in human society, but the speed and pace of the trends of social media has completely disabled the society to keep pace with the values, cultures and traditions of others and communicate with them effectively. This cultural gap has made it difficult for people to communicate with each other and has effectively created a communication gap between different ethnic groups and cultures (Guo-Ming Chen, 2012).
The reason behind this is that the fragmented social media has distorted the cultural values, themes, and grammar and shaped them into a new pattern which has definitely resulted in a loss of traditional cultural logical pattern that existed within every society. Hence, it is important that the society reshape their communication and realign their communication pattern especially within their own community to preserve the importance of their existence within this world.
According to many, the new social network has fostered a new culture in humans, which has resulted in greater uncertainty and ambiguity that has reached its highest degree especially when intercultural communication is concerned. This is a major point of concern which should be curtailed down (Guo-Ming Chen, 2012).
If we analyze the trends at the workplace, it is clear that communication through the electronic medium has taken over face-to-face as well as voice communication and has created a wide gap. There are two main reasons behind this – first and foremost people have started showing discomfort with the traditional means of interpersonal communication and this hesitation is increasing within employees and secondly due to the geographic dispersion of many businesses which require communication through electronic mediums (Tardanic, 2012).
The studies of Gen Y and Millennials demonstrates that future generations that will comprise of more than 50 percent of the workforce will rely on social media groups, blogs and instant messaging system in order to talk to another employee within the same office as well rather than communicate with them face-to-face. This new means of communication which is now widely accepted within business organizations is increasing the generational gap which is plaguing the business culture as the Boomers are trying their best to meet the new norms, values and expectation level of their younger employees (Tardanic, 2012).
Until now, the business sector is encouraging the use of social media and using it in a positive manner. For example, the HR department has widely used the social networks to connect with various job seekers on Facebook and LinkedIn and also streamline the tiresome process of application processing.
The sales teams of different business organization utilize social media to keep a track of their clients and generate sales lead. On the other hand, the distribution and operations teams are able to forecast the supply chains which the research and development department can brainstorm the product ideas and develop new designs and prototypes. Hence, social media is becoming an important business tool for the business sector (Savitz, 2012).
With these trends at play, it is important that organizational leaders must rethink and consider how to improve business relationships and how employees communication and collaborate with each other. With the rise of interaction via the social media, the level of trust and employee engagement level is getting affected which means that the top management must work upon engaging their employees to develop trust and loyalty at work (Tardanic, 2012).
Since, the business communication is now being done on blogs, e-mails, instant messaging, intranets, etc. the potential of miscommunication and misinterpretation of information is increasing. Since employees are more stressed and rushed, they hardly take care of their writing tone that highly results in conflicts and they tend to draw conclusions based on little information which can turn out to be disastrous (Tardanic, 2012).
Even though social media has contributed positively in a lot of ways and still continues to do so for example,we can readily share our important events and memories with family and friends across the world and keep in contact with old friends and relatives despite the geographical and time differences, but it is important that we should not let our smartphones and computers act as a mask and we hide behind as a shield to say whatever and whenever we want to (Thomas, 2013).
It is important that we do not behind this shield and lose track of the reality that why we exist and why face-to-face communication is an important mean of social interaction within humans. Since we have the virtual world available at our fingertips, our insatiable appetite is obvious and it is important that we find out now that the support of social media is removing us from the real world and is becoming detrimental to the real-time communication. It is breaking down our social interaction and increasing the time we spend behind the bars of our smartphones and computers (Thomas, 2013).
The younger generation has created its own digital space, including certain slang languages and shorthand messaging system and according to some studies the reading habit of the younger generation has declined significantly as compared to the older generation. Since 1982, the literary reading has declined dramatically by 28 percent in eighteen to thirty-four-year-old individuals (Small, 2010).
It has been predicted that the trend will increase, and even the people watching television and reading a newspaper will and have declined even further. The preference has now shifted towards electronic communication (Small, 2010).
Positive impact of social media on communication
Even though the social media has reduced face-to-face communication within all levels of society but still, it has improved access to rapid information and interaction among social groups. For example, many social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have created message boards and subgroups for the people who have similar interests. This does not take into account any ethnic, religious or geographical disparities and people from across the world can interact on topics of common interest (Wheeldon, 2011).
The importance of these groups is that they are able to share readily information and interact with each other. On websites like YouTube, the users can create a video response on many topics which help giving feedback on different topics and can create a useful conversation or instigate debates on various topics. It is these characteristics that social media websites are multidimensional in communication and help people readily interact with each other (Wheeldon, 2011).
The social media websites and the various applications that are able to connect the two together encourage a certain sense of mobility and freedom among people. They are able to access information and also communicate with their family and friends regardless of their geographical and time differences which is a huge advantage of using social media and people are able to maintain real-time access to everyone’s information and can chat with others in no time and less cost (Wheeldon, 2011).
The social media networks help people to stay in contact with their family members, friends and others without any geographical boundaries, time restrictions and ethnic, cultural or religious obligations. They can discuss their emotions and feelings through status updates, share important information, chat live in real time with others on various topics and initiate healthy conversation and debate.
Hence, the growing trend and the need of current time has increased people’s interest and attraction towards these social networking sites. The issue with these social networks is that they have increased the phenomenon of digital word of mouth in comparison to the face to face communication that was encouraged before.
Bauerlein Mark (Sept, 2009) Why Gen-Y Johnny Can't Read Nonverbal Cues, The Wall Street Journal, p.2. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203863204574348493483201758
Bo Fu, and Declan O Sullivan (2007) Trust Management in Online Social Networks. In Proceedings: the 7th IT&T Conference, Digital Convergence in a Knowledge Society, p. 5. https://www.scss.tcd.ie/publications/tech-reports/reports.08/TCD-CS-2008-09.pdf
Guo-Ming Chen (2012) The Impact of New Media on Intercultural Communication in Global Context, China Media Research, 8(2), Chen, Impact of New Media on Intercultural Communication, http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1012&context=com_facpubs
Maura Keller (May-June 2013) Social Media and Interpersonal Communication, Social Work Today, Vol. 13 No. 3, p. 10.
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Small, Gary and Gigi Vorgan (2010) Your Brain is Evolving Right Now, iBrain. Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind . Collins Living , n.d. 1-11, http://phil343.weebly.com/uploads/3/1/7/9/3179736/your_brain_is_evolving_right_now_-_small_and_vorgan.pdf
Tardanic Susan (2012) Is Social Media Sabotaging Real Communication?, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/susantardanico/2012/04/30/is-social-media-sabotaging-real-communication/
Thomas White (2013) Why Social Media Isn't Social, HuffingtonPost, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-white/why-social-media-isnt-social_b_3858576.html
Trisha Dowerah Baruah (May 2012) Effectiveness of Social Media as a tool of communication and its potential for technology enabled connections: A micro-level study, International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, Volume 2, Issue 5, p.9.
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