Social Media and Friendships: A Recipe for Disaster?

The Effect of Social Media on Friendships

Social networking has changed the way we keep in touch and communicate with our friends, but not all of it is positive. When it comes to social media and friendships, we can get burned out from hearing about how others feel and what they do. Time on social media means that we can also fail to get the face-to-face time that can be vital to keep a friendship strong

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Facebook and Twitter Provide Us With Too Many Updates From Our Friends

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Show your friends some attention while on Pinterest. Image courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As much as we adore our friends, hearing frequently about the details of their life (like what they ate, when they are having a bad day, or how wonderful their spouse is), may just give you information overload.

We care about the goings on in our friends lives, but too many updates can add an overwhelming element to our already packed days. Besides that, sometimes hearing repeatedly about how good or rotten your friend's life is can turn you off the idea of hanging out with them more frequently.

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Game Requests

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Woman browsing Pinterest and sending pins to friends. Zero Creatives/Getty Images

Games are fun, and many of us play them online, but sometimes repeated game requests when you log in to a site are an annoyance. The subtle hint of irritation you feel at deleting several requests from a friend can progress into irritation at your friend for any communication they send.

You might not mean  to get annoyed with your friend, but it canhappen naturally. To help combat this, turn off or block game requests, or just tell your friend you're not interested so they get the hint and stop sending you messages.

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Less to Say in Person

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Twitter and Facebook are just two ways we can keep in touch with friends. But instant messages may make you feel like you're already in touch with your pal and don't need to spend time hanging out. What's worse, if you do see each other, you might not have anything to talk about. Too much and too frequent communication takes away that "getting caught up" feeling when you see a friend in person.

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False Sense of What's Going On in Your Friend's Life

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Your friend may use social networking to help vent their frustrations, and as a result, you might believe that things are going really poorly for them. Or, perhaps the opposite is true. Your friend may be maintaining a positive outlook online, but in actuality, things are bleak right now for them. In seeing their updates, you might feel like you're all caught up in what's really happening in their lives.

This can mean that instead of scheduling that get-together you always have, you skip it. Or that when you chat with your friend on the phone, you act as if you know exactly what's going on with them instead of asking (or waiting for) them to tell you themselves.

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Lack of In-Depth Conversation with Social Media and Friendships

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One of the great things about friendship is seeing the world from a friend's viewpoint. It offers a wonderful chance for conversation and expanding your knowledge and opinions of the world. But Facebook and Twitter can take that away from friendships, especially when a friend posts a link to something that needs  a real conversation in order to be understood properly. You might be able to "like" a post, but that doesn't mean you and a friend are actually talking about it. What's worse, if you do try and give your opinion, it can come off sounding crude and blunt because you don't have the venue to explain yourself properly.

Differing opinions are good in a friendship, but only if the two of you are able to discuss things in a reasonable manner. If your friend is constantly posting links about a hot-button subject for you, you'll find yourself having an online argument or you'll begin avoiding them all together. Either way, it doesn't help your friendship.

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Balance Social Networking With Other Forms of Communication

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While social networking has helped us communicate more frequently and in a different way with our friends, you need to be careful to have balance. Pay close attention to little resentments you begin to feel over a friendship because of things posted or said online. You might need to pull back from a site if you feel it is adding negativity to your friendship. Always remember that seeing and interacting with a friend in person cannot be replaced.