Social Media Split Relationships Free Essay Samples & Outline

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Essay on "Social Media Drift People's Relationship Apart"

Man being a social being finds it a necessity to belong or be in a group or engage in a collective action. This behavior has given rise to many theories that to explain why people form groups or participate in them. This collective behavior has been around for many centuries and has resulted in the formation of different social structures (Anderson, p2). Examples of collective behaviour over the years include the revolutions of the 17th century like the French revolution, civil rights movements of the seventies, and the north Africa liberation of 2011 (Anderson, p4). Today due to technology, communication has become easy and accessible to many making distance irrelevant and has brought about repercussions that have affected society both negatively and positively.

Social media is a communication tool that has been enabled by the internet and includes platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs and many others. Social media is easy to access and has massive numbers that makes it a preferred tool to use to mobilize people or spread a message. For example, Facebook had about 800 million uses in October 2011 (Facebook, 2011). We have seen the power of social media in bringing about huge changes in society. For example, social media was used during the North Africa revolution of 2011 to bring about change in governments and with great success like in Egypt and Tunisia (Anderson, p5). Protesters in these countries used social media to air their grievances and bring them to the limelight through tweets, videos and the like where the whole world was able to see and hear the raw facts without them being edited as is usually the case (Anderson, p6).

However, some effects of social media are causing concern in society today. For example, today almost everyone including school children have a Facebook account. The time spent on responding to friends and “liking” stuff has meant a decrease in time spent for physically meeting which has affected the traditional societies like family where family time has decreased or socializing activities like coffee and lunch dates or afternoon leisure time at the mall with friends or going to the movies (Jones, p131).

People can communicate without physically meeting or even watch videos online so do not have to go to the movies. The emotional support they used to get from physically meeting is now channeled to online friends hence those who physically live together are no longer together for emotional support but for convenience sake. Relationships are formed as a result of time spent together and emotional support thus these relationships have become strained and of little value. Spouses are no longer best of friends and children do not look up-to parents to get advice so relationships are now strained due to social media (Jones, p133).

Social media has changed social structures the way we have known them. For example, digital natives and late adopters respond to social media differently Buechler, p452). There are those who grew up using these internet tools and have developed a different culture e.g. see social media as the main mode of communication, blindly copy behavior based on whats trending in huge contrast to the late adopters who use social media as a last resort. This has resulted in virtual exclusion which strains relationships between these too age groups.

For example, we have seen social embarrassing things happening on social media where the personnel of firms fail to be discreet or professional in their encounters online leading to the firm having to apologize for lack of discreetness or professionalism of their staff. For example, two fast food firms where at logger heads recently when one called their staff obese and that is why they don’t deliver their food on time. This brought a public outcry and the firm was forced to release a press statement apologizing on behalf of that staff for the lack of discreetness. The young generation does not know which is proper behavior and which is not.

Some people are becoming addicted to these social media tools and this is having a detrimental effect especially on their mental health. It has resulted in schizophrenic behavior, conflict with elders or peers due to different behavior which is seen as rebellious and withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they are denied access to the internet. For example the way people behave online is different from when they meet face to face. You find young people with two personalities i.e. an online personality and a real life personality.

This has resulted in confusion and relationships suffer because one may have met an online version of a person but does not like the offline or real version. It has led to a society of very low values and not knowing how to handle emotions hence increased suicides and erratic behaviors and low tolerance levels. Young people want reality to run at the speed of the internet i.e. instant success and results.

According to social network theory, a movement is made up of nodes i.e. the individuals and ties i.e. the relationships between individuals (Buechler, p441). It is relationships that connect individuals. The degree of the ties can either cause long lasting relationships or break-down of relationships altogether. For example, group outcome can be predicted thus if one wanted a negative outcome between two groups, they can create this situation. Social media can be used to create this drift in relationships intentionally or unintentionally. It has been used to disrupt the functioning of illegal groups like terrorist movements or business cartels (Buechler, p442).

According to the new social movements theory, these new movements focus on social change like lifestyle or culture (Jones, p135). Examples include green movements, women rights movements, gay movements and the like. Social media is a key tool to such moments as these movements normally comprise of a few people and do not have mass reception like the older movements like the revolutions. Thus social media is a good platform as its normally has flexible rules and is un-regulated or un-restricted like the situation on the ground thus is easy to bring about a new revolution. Thus social media does create a drift in relationships as it facilitates those misfits who cannot find voice in the normal world (Buechler, p444 ).

Also if we base social movements occurring based on the on social exchange theory, where cost benefit analysis is used as a criteria. This theory argues that behavior is influenced by what one will gain in the relationship (Anderson, p3). For example, a person marries another because they gain companionship. Thus people form relationships only because they will benefit and not for the sake of it. This situation can lead to exploitation of a weaker group by a stronger group and thus lead to drift in relationships. For example, in social media, when conmen fleece people in a willing buyer or willing seller situation.

The social identity theory shows how the perceived identity of the group influences their behavior. Social media is a tool that is used to create groups of people who share similar views or behaviors, and it is believed that groups formed on identity grounds usually bring about discrimination or bias (Buechler, p446 ). This causes stigmatization and other social ills like segregation which causes a drift in relationships.

Social capital theory explains that social groups or networks bring about social wealth. For example, organizations like hospice, the red cross and red crescent movements were formed to make a better world (Jones, p135). However, social media has been accused of watering the social wealth concept in that it is preventing traditional communities from thriving and eroding on culture and traditions that used to hold people together. For example, the increased number of young people bringing guns to school and using them to kill people is believed to be a result of lack of relationships or socializing of many young people who just sit in front of computers and talk to no-one.

In conclusion, any form of gathering influences the behavior of the actors or participants and this behavior can be positive or negative. It is thus the responsibility of members to ensure that whatever associations they form or engage in, they use them to bring out the best in themselves and for the betterment of society.


Anderson, L. 2011. Demystifying the Arab Spring: Parsing the Differences Between Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Foreign Affairs [PDF]. 90 (3) pp. 2-7.
Caren, N. Gaby, S. 2011. Occupy Online: Facebook and the Spread of Occupy Wall Street. Univ. of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Jones, J., 2011. Social Media and Social Movements. International Socialism: A quarterly journal of socialist theory [online]. (130) 4 April.
Buechler, Steven M. New Social Movement Theories, Sociological Quarterly Volume 36 Issue 3, Pages 441 - 464, 1995