Jenn Kaye, a relationship communication specialist, recently stated that she felt people were using Social Media sites, such as Twitter and Face book, as more than tools, but as substitutes for real relationships. She wondered if some online relationships are based on fact or fiction. Anyone on Twitter for any real length of time, with a healthy following would say, for people who are extremely lonely there is an appeal to using it as a sort of friend “hub.” But the hub is with a catch. It is not exchange, because they don’t really want to “know” the other person, as much as they want to be acknowledged by them. It’s a one-sided relationship. It’s all about them and their need to feel “accepted.”
There are people who call people online their best friend forever (BFF), and they have never uttered a word to them by phone or in person. Their whole relationship is based on 140 character posts, most which are not directed to them. Some get a little too happy when they are acknowledged publically, but this really only happens when people have tons of followers or fans. You know, like the celebs of Twitter. They receive their value from who knows them.
Social media tools such as blogs, Facebook, and Twitter are great for connecting people. In many ways it eliminates the six degrees of separation. Many friendships and business partnerships would not have materialized had it not been for these platforms. However, online friends are no substitute for friends in the real world. Since most communication is done by body language, it can be difficult to gage what a person means by a tweet or a post. How you read it, may not be what was meant. Of course, you could talk to people on the phone and get an idea, but again, there are some limits.
This is not to imply that all relationships have to be in real life, but face-to-face meeting brings something with it. How often have you heard, “They are not the same as they project themselves online?” Sometimes people misconstrue, but most often the person online feels safe in a certain anonymity in their communication online. They can be loud, confident, or whatever they choose, but face-to-face does not allow that luxury.
Heck, there have been meetings and conferences where people spent their time tweeting instead of engaging with the people in the room. This shows that too many people do not know how to have real relationships. The fantasy relationship is far easier to control then the real.
Jenn Kaye seems to be correct, too many people are using social media tools for having followers for instagram, in sense of using it as a substitute for real communication and relationships. While social media has opened the world to us, it can easily become a wall hide behind.