Negative Impact of Technology on Social Networking
Modern technologies have greatly changed the lives of people. The world simultaneously has grown bigger and become smaller as people now freely travel on large distances and cooperate with overseas business partners. Exchanging information with the person who lives thousands of kilometers away is a matter of a few seconds as mobile phones and internet-mediated communication made it very simple, fast, and easy. The positive impact of technologies on the human life is obvious. However, there are also many negative aspects that must not be overlooked, and this paper is aimed to describe some of them.
Modern researchers note that “Unsafe disclosure of information, cyberbullies, addiction, risky behavior, and contact with dangerous communities are popular concerns raised in the mainstream media about the use of social network sites” (Valenzuela, Park, & Kee, 2009). It is also obvious that “the quantity of face-to-face interpersonal interaction is affected by how an individual uses and distributes his or her time during the day”, so paying too much time to the use of internet would undoubtedly decrease the person’s ability to do good in social networking (Nie & Hillygus, 2002). Technologies have not made human communication more harmonious and ethical, and the internet remains one of the most dangerous places for the information exchange. One of the spheres that greatly suffered from the technologies is social networking. The use of mobile phones and the internet has changed the nature of social networking and negatively affected the abilities of people to build sound and long-lasting relations.
Technologies have changed the very essence of the concept of friendship, which has always been one of the most important pillars of human relations. Before cutting-edge technologies altered the basic principles of human communication, friendship as a form of interpersonal relations has been having relatively the same meaning for many centuries. Friends were people who often met and discussed different issues ranging from some personal problems to different philosophic concepts. They went out together, attended parties, cinemas, etc. However, when social network sites became an integral part of modern life, the term “friends” started being used for virtual friends on Facebook, etc. The opportunity to discuss something with these friends has remained, but often they are complete strangers whom the individual never met in person. Moreover, the “depth” of the communication with online “friends” is often incomparable with long-lasting traditional friendship. A person may have a Facebook friend for several years and even does not know whether he is married or not. Such a situation is unlikely to happen in case of “face-to-face” friendship. Unfortunately, it is possible that future generations would not be even able to “distinguish between meaningful relationships and casual acquaintances” (Parrack, 2012). Proponents of social network sites and the like may argue that virtual friendship is only an addition to the traditional one, but many recent studies show that people have begun spending less time with “real” friends substituting them with internet communication that creates a false sense of connection. Nie and Hillygus (2002), for example, suggest that “internet use at home has a strong negative impact on time spent with friends and family as well as time spent on social activities.” However, the main problem is that the person does not always understand it as he or she feels “connected” to many virtual friends who are often nothing more than a few lines of message a week.
The nature of internet communication has prompted people to pay more attention to their own personality thus increasing the degree of self-centeredness that could not have any positive impact on the real-life social networking. Modern technologies offer a variety of ways in which the person could express his or her feelings, share thoughts on various events, issues, etc. “These Web sites have been found to be an avenue for people to display their narcissistic traits online” (Technology, 2014). Blogging has become a profession, and documenting every moment of life on the web is nowadays a norm for many young people. “Youngsters especially could become convinced that they are more important than anyone else, and that what they have to say should be read and responded to by a wider audience” (Parrack, 2012).
The sphere of internet communication has much fewer rules and regulations than real communication and, as a result, it may lead to more frequent cases of negative response and feedback that upsets people and even make them depressed. It negatively influences social networking persuading individuals that they, for example, are surrounded with the hostile environment or their talents are not understood by others. Some studies proved that “negative feedback decreased self-esteem and well-being” of people who received such comments on the web (Valkenburg, Peter, & Schouten, 2006). To achieve success in the sphere of social networking, a person should be open to others and be willing to accept new contacts, but internet-mediated communication often creates fear, conscious or subconscious, of negative feedback that may decrease the person’s adaptability and readiness to establish new contacts in real life. The internet, of course, is not the only source of uncertainty in life, but the atmosphere of anonymity makes rude responses on the web more likely than in real life.
Technologies bring much stress into the human life, so people can become too aggressive and demanding when it comes to real-life social networking. Nowadays people expect others to be accessible any time of the working hours and often after them. If the person switches off his or her mobile phone and stops answering emails, the clients, colleagues, and partners may get irritated and interpret this action as certain unwillingness to cooperate with them or probably even a sign of disrespect. It is evident that “some technological advances cause people to be distracted, overly stressed, and increasingly isolated” (Technology, 2014). This sense of isolation combined with increased levels of aggression is a cause of many problems in the sphere of social networking. To solve them, an individual must pay more attention and time to the face-to-face communication with his or her contacts, but it becomes impossible as “the Internet has created a shift in people’s time allocation” (Nie & Hillygus, 2002). In other words, people simply do not have time to build stronger social ties and to “mend” communication lines damaged by episodes of aggressive behavior, etc. The constant stress of the modern world, especially evident in many developed countries, like the Unites States, Great Britain, and others, is, to some extent, aggravated by the new technologies that were, on the contrary, created to ease and harmonize human communication.
To conclude, technologies, despite the significant positive impact on the human society, have also brought many negative aspects into the everyday life and, especially, social networking. Friendship in the new online epoch has become different from the traditional meaning of this term and, as a result, people formed a different attitude to this concept that did not make the human relations deeper and more harmonious. Technologies also created an environment that boosted human self-centeredness, a feature that obviously does not improve the skills of social networking. Negative feedback that has become more frequent due to the peculiarities of communication via modern technologies can easily make people upset or depressed. Moreover, social networking is more difficult now due to the increased levels of human aggression and higher demands for others that also can be considered a repercussion of the modern technologies and their usage in everyday life. Therefore, the quality and nature of social networking have significantly changed due to the contemporary technologies and devices, and often, as shown above, these changes made it less effective.