The Impact of Social Networking on Relationships

I’ve come to realize that while social networking has great advantages, if not used wisely, it has the potential to hurt people and destroy relationships. People use social sites to articulate their anger, frustration and disappointments in life and people. It is often the tool for character assassination and intimidation. Such sites are used for a variety of purposes and entrepreneurs and employees alike have successfully used it as a platform used to elevate their brands to higher levels of public awareness. Have we become “hooked on social sites?” Do we spend more time building meaningless online friendships than we do strengthening personal relationships and friendships? If your mate/spouse, children or even career are competing for your time then it’s time to reevaluate your priorities.

Many of us have allowed social sites to desensitize us to matters of the heart and relationships that truly require our time and energy. Some social networking experts believe at the recent Enterprise 2.0 conference, there was some discussion that social networking is having a negative impact on our relationships. Personally speaking, I agree with the notion that if allowed, social networking can have a negative impact on relationships. I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to observe friends and loved ones become so addicted to social networking; it affected their personal relationships. I’ll even go the extra mile and say that some have grown insensitive to personal needs of others. There are times when I take a much-needed break from Facebook by temporarily deactivating my account. It allows me the time to keep my social networking goals in perspective and not allow myself to become too obsessed with this online technology. Below are some suggestions on how to maintain a healthy dependence on social sites:

• Identify usage time for social networking • Establish and maintain boundaries and don’t allow the friends you meet interfere with your personal relationships • Set a clear goal for social networking. Will you use it to meet friends, professional networking, connect with old friends, etc. • Don’t use social sites to embarrass, criticize or demean others (some things should still be kept private) • Don’t allow your time on social sites to monopolize time away from your mate/spouse, children or school • Know when it’s time to take a break. Turn off your computer, go for a walk, a drive, or read a book.

We must remember to maintain balance in all things. Let’s not be so consumed with online social networking that we neglect the people in our lives. Know when it’s time to close the laptop and just spend personal, quality time with friends and loved ones.