The Negative Effects Social Media Can Have on Relationships

Are millennials spending too much time checking their social media accounts and not enough time interacting face-to-face?
September 14, 2017
9 mins read

Have you ever realized how much time you’ve spent on social media? How many countless hours, minutes and seconds you’ve spent checking your story on Snapchat or scrolling passed all of your followers’ pictures on Instagram?

In today’s society, we are addicted to our phones, computers, tablets and other technological devices. We spend too much time on our devices checking social media pages and it can really take a toll not just on yourself, but the relationships you have.

When you go out to dinner and look around the room, you can guarantee that at least 60 percent of the people sitting around you are on their phones or have them sitting in arms reach. How sad is it to see such a shocking number? I, unfortunately, am guilty of spending too much time checking my social media accounts at inappropriate times, for example, on a date with my boyfriend.

For some reason I am glued to my phone and I have to constantly check for updates no matter where I am. The sad thing is that I’ll check an app, close it, and then reopen it not even a second later — that’s how obsessed I am. Since there are a growing number of users on social media and most of them are millennials, can social media affect relationships? ABSOLUTELY.

In the past few years, social media has become one of the most powerful tools of technology. With power comes great responsibility, but there aren’t always positives to power. Social media was originally created as a networking tool, but has become so much more.

People across the world can connect through small screens with the use of the internet and social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Sure, that may sound great and all, but being able to connect to over a billion people through a screen can become addicting and overwhelming. The constant checking of social media can actually drive you insane.

It’s crazy to think that a form of technology could be as addicting, in a sense, as a drug. Spending countless hours refreshing your feed is draining and it literally sucks the life out of you. Hey, I’m not necessarily bashing social media, I think social media could be a great thing and I am a hard-core addict, but I think us millennials need to learn how to put our phones down once in a while. Taking a break from social media is as refreshing as taking a cold shower on a hot day.

By having almost the entire world attached to their phones through social media, it can take a toll on romantic, personal and professional relationships. The constant need to click refresh allows little time for physical interaction.

For example, the other day my boyfriend and I went out on a dinner date and while we waited for our food, we weren’t speaking out loud. Instead, we were checking our social media accounts, sending a few Snapchats to each other every so often. I have noticed recently how often I am on my phone refreshing apps and checking the latest posts, and the number is upsetting.

As humans, we sometimes are unaware of what we are doing, almost like a subconscious thing. I have been addicted to social media ever since middle school when I made my first MySpace account. Now, I am almost 22 and still find myself glued to my screen and scrolling through unimportant things. If social media is so powerful now, what does the future hold?

It’s hard to say what’s going to happen in the future of social media, but I can tell you if it’s anything like what we have seen in the past four or five years, we should be worried. We millennials are the future of this country and if we can’t put our phones down for one second to have a normal conversation, then who knows what’s going to happen to real-life human interaction.

I shouldn’t have to be afraid to have a normal conversation with people in person, but I am. I get the worst social anxiety when it comes to speaking out loud. This is truly heartbreaking because a lifetime ago I used to be a social butterfly that couldn’t shut her mouth.

Now, I cringe at the thought of communication and human interaction, which is difficult when you are working in the media industry. Is social media to blame for my decline of communication skills? Hard to say, but I can tell you this, before I became obsessed with social media, I could give an oral presentation without any struggle and could lead a group with no fear.

Though, it’s not even just a fear of verbal communication, I have lost friendships because of social media. Constantly checking Instagram to see what my friends are up to is no way to live. It used to drive me insane to see my friends at parties or out doing some fun and exciting thing while I was at home doing nothing.

I am guilty of overreacting when one of my “friends” or followers wouldn’t like one of my photos on Instagram or the link to my published article on Facebook. I cared more about a like than the actual thing I was posting. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even post a certain picture because I was afraid no one would “like” it. The amount of likes you get on your post shouldn’t be the most important thing. It’s so silly and so not important.

So how do you break the ties between social media? Stop freaking checking it so often! Go outside, go read a book, learn a new recipe, go to the gym, run around your community; no matter what you do, just stop checking your accounts so frequently.

Another great tip would be to delete your accounts, I’m not saying forever, but delete them until you no longer feel the undeniably, uncontrollable need to check them. Your social skills will improve and your relationships will actually strengthen because you will be able to focus all of your attention on more important things.

If you feel like you are missing out on the world because you aren’t seeing the latest happy birthday meme floating around Twitter or the pictures from recruitment week on Instagram, I guarantee you are going to be okay and I promise you aren’t really missing much.

Go put your focus and attention on things that actually matter in life, like your personal well-being or your friends, family and romantic relationships. Don’t let social media suck you into the vortex of fakeness; focus on where you are in the real world.

Cady Cohen, University of Central Florida

Writer Profile

Cady Cohen

University of Central Florida
Writing & Rhetoric

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