Social media has literally revolutionized relationships and the expanse of our daily interactions. Step back and examine the monumental impact of these platforms on our lives. By the time you’re done reading this, someone has made a friend in a country they’ve never been to, video chatted with their grandparents who live across the globe, or found a date for Friday night with just a few swipes. Social media has shrunk the degrees of separation and forged paths that would have never crossed in the first place. With ever-expanding interconnectedness, it’s important to examine the effect of social media on our everyday relationships.
We’ve all been on both sides of the blue ticks. Those pesky blue ticks. Did they actually read my text or open it accidently? Are they waiting for 10 minutes to reply just because I took 5? Are they irritated? The age of accessibility has created a sense of response expectation, which can be tricky to navigate since not everyone is on the same page. “I know they have their phone on them all the time, so why haven’t they replied to me yet?” is an unhealthy, yet oddly, a socially accepted reaction. We tend to project our self-esteem onto others when there’s a delay in communication. But being plugged in doesn’t mean we’re indispensably available 24/7, obligated to respond to every conversational whim throughout the day. There are no hard or fast rules to social etiquette. But hiding behind the comfort of a screen or username has led to the rise of the phenomena of “ghosting” – cutting all communication with someone without warning. It could be disrespectful at the least, and even traumatic to someone’s self-esteem. Keep it real – if it’s not something you would say or do in person, best avoid it online too.
If you like to scroll through Instagram, you might find yourself “stargazing” more often than you’d like. And not the kind you do at Al Qudra. You might be enamored by the magnetizing lives of the rich and famous that are splashed across your explore feed. But this a kind reminder that most of what you seen on there is a purposefully curated highlight reel – you post exactly what you want others to see. Your friends included. The same way you might have posted a song in your car you really like. But didn’t post the traffic you were stuck in on the way from an interview that didn’t go so well. The same brain circuits activated by eating chocolate and winning money light up when teenagers see a high number of “likes” on their photos.
Social media in all it’s glory, provides humans the basic instant gratification we all seek—just a click away. We get a rush of dopamine when we hear our text tone or seeing that special someone like our picture. It’s easy to get stuck in these reward loops that keep us scrolling endlessly. A study showed that participants that took a break from Facebook reported an increase in satisfaction with their social life and experienced less concentration difficulties. “Instead of focusing on what we actually need, we have an unfortunate tendency of focusing on what other people have,” the authors of the study wrote. On the other side of the same coin, curating feeds has given us a platform to showcase work and talent like never before. Social media has literally launched careers by giving a voice to those that haven’t been afforded the same networks or connections as others.
If it’s on the Internet, it’s forever! We’ve all seen our fair share of petty or vengeful posts, and probably even snickered at them in our group chats. But it could be a lesson in disguise. Venting or over-sharing on public forums can alienate your friends or come back to haunt you later.A study involving Facebook users showed that sharing too many selfies could lead to a decreased intimacy in relationships. 
If you need support or advice, reach out to your family or friends. Information at the tip of your fingers is all fun and games until you see something you never wanted to. Being bombarded by pictures of your old flame or former friend isn’t the best feeling. Similarly, posts of your current or ex partner could heighten jealousy and lead to increased surveillance. To break this vicious cycle, it’s completely alright (and quite encouraged) if you need to unfollow someone for your own peace and sanity.
However, Social media has undoubtedly changed lives for the better. Long distance relationships flourish now than ever before with the ease at which we can share experiences with our significant other. Launching careers using various platforms sometimes through viral posting and through connections. Connecting with friends and family across the globe has never been easier with so many platforms to connect with. This has changed the landscape and helped people come closer together. We would be amiss to not recognize the influence of apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter. How else would we remember birthdays? However these virtual apps are exactly that, virtual. While it keeps us connected, be aware of its impact on your self-worth and close relationships.
1. Sherman, L. E., Payton, A. A., Hernandez, L. M., Greenfield, P. M., & Dapretto, M. (2016). The Power of the Like in Adolescence: Effects of Peer Influence on Neural and Behavioral Responses to Social Media. Psychological Science, 27(7), 1027–1035. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797616645673
2. Happiness Research Institute (2015). The Facebook experiment: Does social media affect the quality of our lives? Retrieved from https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/928487_680fc12644c8428e b728cde7d61b13e7.pdf
3. Cohen, M. T. (2018, December 4). Social Media and Relationships. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-love-the-scientific-take/201812/social-media-and-relationships
4. Houghton, D., Joinson, A., Caldwell, N., & Marder, B. (2013). Tagger’s delight? Disclosure and liking in Facebook: The effects of sharing photographs amongst multiple.