Social Networking: Has it Taken the Place of Interpersonal Communication? Kywra Carter GEN/200 08/18/2010 Nikki Sulcer For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past five years, welcome to the world of social networking. According to ComScore, over one billion people use social networking sites across the globe. That means that everyone who’s anyone has a page or account with twitter, myspace, facebook, skype or any of the other hundred emerging sites. People have discovered a better way to communicate with other people all over the world, far surpassing snail mail and e-mail.
Why send a letter to your cousin living in France or pay outrageous money for a phone call to your brother stationed in the Middle East when they can be only a mouse click away. As many positive advances we’ve seen come from the latest web innovations, can it be said that there are negative ones as well? Interpersonal communication is defined as what one uses with both spoken and written words as the basis to form and maintain personal relationships with others (Heil 2010). Has this way of communicating gone the way of the dinosaurs?
What are the effects social networking has had on some forms of interpersonal communication such as face-to-face, written communication, and telephone communication? For face-to-face communication, let’s look at the dating side of the game in respect to social networking. If you have a television and have been watching it, it would seem as if everyone is on the search for their soul mate. According to online dating sites like eharmony, match. com, and tons of others, the internet is the best place to find your true love, or at least someone who catches your interest to start.
Tens of millions of people are looking for that special someone using all types of services such as personality spectrums, personal preferences, and photo identification to narrow down the search of Ms. or Mr. Right. According to consumerresearch. com, one reason these sites are so popular are for their “ability to weed out people who aren’t compatible, and get to know someone from a safe distance before a face-to-face encounter… (Best, 2009). ” Although these sites and services have brought a great deal of success and happiness to some, one has to wonder if this unnatural way of meeting people is the way of the future.
Whatever happened to love at first sight or meeting in some random place and time and sparking a connection? Is it a lack of being able to find that special person or a need to control every aspect of a potential union that drives us to use these sites? Are we so lazy and dependent on technology doing everything for us that we would leave something like love up to a computer to analyze and calculate and hopefully match us up with our soul mates? Maybe, maybe not, although one thing is apparent, as long as we have the resources to improve on things like finding someone to love the demand for such sites will remain elevated.
When you start school as a young child one of the first things you learn is how to write. This is a skill that is pertinent throughout and in every aspect of your life. If you wanted to communicate with loved ones or distant friends before the age of the telephone and even then, you would write a letter, send it off, and wait for a response. In today’s society however, everything is on the go and fast-paced. The USPS processed and shipped over 177 billion pieces of mail in 2009 (USPS Para. 2) but apparently no one has time to sit around and write long letters or more importantly wait for those letters to be received and responded to.
Now with the accessibility of social networking sites like facebook, you can type a quick or a long message to your friend send it and receive a response in seconds if they’re on the site or viewing from their mobile phone. With over 722 million people using the site as of 2009, they aren’t too many people you don’t know on there. You can also find old friends, check in on new ones, get involved with all types of activities, and on top of that it is free to use. So why bother with snail mail that may take days or emails that can be blocked, ignored, or even accidently discarded?
With all the advantages, you tend not to take notice of the bad things involved with sites like facebook. Getting your account hacked can happen to anyone and once it has been infiltrated you usually have to delete and start fresh or run the risk of someone impersonating you. Other things like bothersome advertisements and program glitches can be a strain. This is not to say that you should not use such a site but that you should not forget the roots of communicating, and its’ benefits however slow they may be in coming.
Communicating with a relative that lives a great distance may not be difficult to do with just a telephone but it can prove very costly. If you happen to have a relative overseas, lets’ say France “it can cost you as much as a $1. 77 a minute” to talk with them maybe even more “depending on your phone service provider. ” (Federal Communications Commission Para. 2). In today’s recession who has that kind of money? If you want to use something that is a little less costly, a popular alternative is the social networking site Skype. Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the internet.
As long as the person you are calling also uses the software the cost is free. Skype software has been downloaded half a billion times with 171 million registered users worldwide (Grabham 2007). However as many people are raving about the new software, complaints via consumeraffairs. com have been reported stemming from account hacking, fraudulent and unauthorized charges, and no customer service support. In this situation expectations seem to fall short of the hype surrounding it. So it seems social networking has its advantages and disadvantages.
While being used the world throughout, is it really the future of communication? Interpersonal communication can boil down to a simple hello, a kind smile or even a hug. Social networking may lead to these things eventually but certainly does not take the place of them. Our human nature craves human contact and no number of instant messages or video chats can replace the touch of someone you love. Social networking is simply a place holder for interpersonal communication, something we can do or use as comfort until we face the world yet again and seek out the people that truly mean the most to us.
References Heil, D. (2010). Definition of Interpersonal Communication and Its Importance to Your Relationships. Retrieved Aug. 18, 2010 from http://ezinearticles. com Best, J. (2009). Online Dating: Comparing the Top Sites. Retrieved Aug. 18, 2010 from http://www. consumerresearch. com “Postal Facts 2009”. (2009). Retrieved Aug. 18, 2010 from http://www. usps. com “International long distance calling” (2010). Retrieved Aug. 18, 2010 from http://www. fcc. gov Grabham, D. (2007) How Many People Actually Use Skype? Retrieved Aug. 18, 2010 from http://www. techradar. com