Social Media How it Affects Communication

Ashryn Ijae

One bright Friday afternoon, Sharon Seline exchanged text messages with her daughter, a college student. They chatted back and forth, mom asking how things were going and the daughter answering with positive statements followed by smiley emoticons and hearts. It was a manifestation of happiness. Later that night, her daughter attempted suicide. In the following days, it came to light that she had been holed up in her dorm room, sobbing and presenting signs of depression — a radically different version from the one that she bore in texts, Facebook posts, and tweets.

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The isolated exchange of a hundred messages is not enough to conclude that active communication has occurred.

The mother could not on chatting with her daughter to sense even a sliver of distress in her daughter, and by that night, the daughter committed suicide. There is no better instance to prove that social media has not improved human communication. It is not just me who says this.

Statistics and behavior experts agree with me.

According to Forbes, only 7% of human communication relies on written or verbal discourse. A whopping 93% of communication takes cues from nonverbal body language. Every relevant metric reveals that we are interacting at an incredible speed through social media. But are we really communicating?

Are we now focusing on communication quantity versus quality? Superficiality versus authenticity? In an ironic development, social media has made us less social.

Communication via social media not only increases misinterpretation but also stops the building of genuine, authentic relationships.

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to go out on a date with someone, you would talk to them face to face first, but now you swipe right on Tinder based on an edited picture and fraudulent description.

Let us consider the second detail solidifying the fact that social media doesn’t improve communication. A data trail is left by us when we use our favorite communication tools. Here are some unimaginable statistics for the extent of communication we engage in.

We send 16 million text messages and 156 million emails worldwide — in one minute: at a 7% communication capacity. Let’s take that in for a minute.

With 93% of our communication context stripped away, we are now attempting to forge relationships and make decisions based on phrases. Abbreviations. Snippets. Emoticons. Which may or may not be realistic depictions of the truth. According to data from DataReportal, the average American spends 7 hours and 4 minutes looking at a screen every day. We are not communicating on social media. We are sharing oblivious, irrelevant information.

So, in a nutshell, over 4.1 billion human beings are spending over 3 hours a day on social media, communicating at 7% of their natural capacity, spreading disingenuity, fostering miscommunication, and hindering relationships.

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I am an Economics student and I deliver accurate, unopinionated news about sustainability, mental health, and productivity.

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