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Social Media such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp are now our best friends. Millions of people use these social media to contact with friends and family. Skype works like a bridge for long distance relationships. We use Whatsapp to make plans and Twitter to interact with public figures. Though our lives are somewhat based on internet world, is it really can fulfill our life??
There have been several warnings about the imperfections of online communication. Professor in Technology, Science and Society at MIT, Sherry Turkle wrote in New York Times that our online life is distracting us from face to face interaction and reducing empathy. Thus friendships are also suffering. Child psychologist Yalda Uhls performed a study and showed that children who watch TV for a lot of time and spend time with computers were worse at identifying non-verbal emotional hits than those who had only 5 days without computers and TVs.
Another study was executed by Pew Foundation in 2015 where the report found out that teenagers are much closer to online for strengthening their friendships. 57% of teenagers said that they had made friends online. Psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, Amori Mikami has operated several studies on online interactions and said Quartz that gradually the nature and structure of online communication are changing as young people use social networks in a different way.
Mikami says, “Too much research tends to lump all online interactions together, she says, instead of distinguishing between positive, meaning conversations and more superficial, negative exchanges. Emerging adults and millennial are comfortable socializing and opening up online. Her work was presented on 17th annual convention of Society for Personal and Social Psychology on Friday.
Online communication is really helpful for people who live in isolated areas. Young generation think that online communication is a great way of communicating people in time of crisis. Some young people like texting rather than speaking. Crisis Text Line counselors presently receive and send 20,000 messages per day. Suicide prevention researcher at the University of Rochester, Anthony Pisani told The New York Times, “The service offers a layer of protection from the shame of expressing your vulnerabilities.”
Social networks let people communicate with so many people at once which is the basic difference between online interaction and face to face communication. Positive and negative consequences depend on the type of friends you have. Mikami believes that people can get the same level of attainment from online interactions as they get from in-person communication. “This might be hard for older adults to believe and it might not be possible for them, because they might not feel comfortable having those kinds of deep online interactions. To them, the online world will always be more superficial. But millennial really see it differently.” Mikami says.
The nature of online interactions is developing day by day, so it is difficult to compare and establish whether social media friendships are sufficient or not for people. People who don’t have strong in-person support can be benefited from online interactions.