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3 Effects of Social Media on Communication: A Community Discussion

The Doe Team

by The Doe Team

| December 14, 2021

Hear what our readers had to say when we asked: “Has social media changed the way you interact with others?”

As digital communication, often via social media, has become more prevalent (and sometimes more comfortable) than face-to-face interactions, hear what our readers had to say when we asked: “Has social media changed the way you interact with others?” Does it make for better, or worse, communication?

The World Wide Web, or the first time we were able to access data online, was developed in 1990. Our first glimpse into the connected universe was relatively simple. These were the days that led to dial-up on AOL broadband, AIM chat messenger and downloading music off of LimeWire, Kazaa and Napster.

From 1990 to about 2005, only 5% of the U.S. population engaged in some form of social media. Fast forward to today, and that number has jumped to 70%.

What happens when millions of people have instant access to not only a seemingly infinite amount of information about our world but also to each other? How does social media affect us? Does social media foster civil discourse, breaking down walls that separate us in our echo chambers, or does it stand as a fortress between us?

We got curious. Sure, there are countless studies that point to the psychological effect of social media, but we at The Doe asked our readers: 

Has social media changed the way you interact with others? 

In reading their responses, we wanted to explore what you can take from these comments as you move forward in your journey toward further growth and understanding. Here’s what they had to say about social media and communication skills:

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1. Social Media Fosters Civil Discourse—Check!

It helped me realize I don't have to argue with everyone I disagree with in real life.”

Engaging with others’ personal experiences helps broaden your worldview and break down your prejudices. At least, we hope so! Comments like the one above tell you that social media has helped people quell some of their discomfort in engaging with opposing views. We even had someone say, “I tend to be more thoughtful and caring towards others on social media,” as if the revealing of someone’s open, honest opinion has the power to soften our own outlooks.

Another response, “[Social media] gave me confidence,” indicates that when used for good, social media can create the opportunity for one to express themselves with more openness, which can provide others the opportunity to discover another’s experience.

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2. Social Media Holds You to a Higher Standard

Openness isn’t always met with neutral perspectives, though. As one respondent says, “Absolutely—I judge people much more harshly sometimes.”

It’s true that the act of sharing and posting your opinion opens you up to be judged, and this reader fully admits that they scrutinize people more closely. Let it be known then, the vulnerability of sharing your opinion and story does not give you license to not be judged—but that’s ok. To judge can mean that we take the care to evaluate what someone has said and weigh it according to our own paradigm.

There is a fairly common saying in the yoga world that goes, “When you judge others, you define yourself.” In that way, social media can have a positive impact if we treat it like a mirror: Where do you judge yourself most harshly? Where do you disagree or agree with someone and why? And what changes can you enact within yourself to be a more accepting person?

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3. Social Media Can Leave Us Wanting More Meaning

“I feel that I have no[t] been able to develop social and communication skills to have meaning.”

In the character limit (and short attention span) world of social media and communication skills, brevity can be seen as valued over depth. The comment above shows us that even with all the benefits of social media, the restrictions imposed on the medium naturally limit your capacity to convey more meaningful responses. 

Even if an image says a thousand words, having only a few hundred characters to post means we risk capturing all of the nuances of human experience. In fact, there are many books, like How to Write Short, that detail how challenging it is to write with brevity and still have an impact on the masses.

This comment reminds us of the importance of meeting people not only online, but offline as well, to discuss, share and take down our barriers to uncover the intricacies of the human connection we all share.

In Summary

You know that social media affects us, but are you always cognizant of how? The way we internalize information, act towards others and act towards ourselves is a part of everyone’s unique social media experience. We hope these readers’ answers bring more room for a pause before you swipe or click through the latest feed and bring you more awareness toward your reactions to others’ posts and your social media interactions. 

On that, we’ll leave you with this: Plato, one of history's most famous thinkers, warned that “opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance,” so keep reading and reflecting! 

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