It’s been pretty well documented about all the great things that Social Media sites can do, from keeping family and friends connected across the miles to enabling grassroots organizations to rally support with no budget to speak of. Yet any mode of communication is only as effective as the people using it, and here’s the concern: Not everyone chooses to use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and various other specialized Web groups.
[Read also: How to Use Social Media as an Educational Tool]
How Social Media Doesn’t Work
Tech-lovers, particularly ones with 1,000-plus “friends” lose sight of the fact that not everyone chooses to partake, and with the simple click of a button can quickly harm relationships simply because they had big news and chose to share it with the world at large before personally contacting their closest friends. When one of your best friends happens to casually hear about your motorcycle crash because you didn’t think to call or even text you say to that person (whether meaning to or not) that they aren’t valued as one of you inner-circle friends. Yes, everyone assumes that everyone’s on such and such site so rattling off a post about it is faster and easier but not everyone chooses to ingest or disseminate their daily information via the Web. And this disconnect between valued face-to-face friends and a false sense of connection with some cyber friends you’d never have a beer with isn’t the fault of social media sites, it’s ours.
[Real also: Social Media Apps Changing Smartphone Functions]
What Do We Do?
First off it’s a good idea to really look at your friends lists and start being more selective about who you invite in, or at the very least start filtering in a way that makes your lists more manageable. If you are an artist or public personality consider making a separate fan page and then a more personal page. But most important of all: slow down for a minute and look at your life and identify the people that really, truly matter to you. Are you keeping up your side of the friendship with something as simple as the occasional text, or chat session? Or here’s a novel concept: when’s the last time you made plans to grab a cup of coffee together and then actually followed through?
And most important: be sure to tell your closest friends big news in a more private and personal way than as a public blast to 1,000 acquaintances. If you simply can’t keep that in mind then do something as simple and effective as taping a list to your computer of people who should hear things first. Don’t hesitate to use social media sites for all the good they can offer but also don’t forget to pick up the phone or make a date to value your “real” friendships while you’ve got them.
Do you think social media can hurt relationships? Let us know in the comments.