Blog 2 – Interpersonal Relationships & Social Networking

The article I found is called “Social Networking can help and hurt relationships.” It’s from a Salt Lake City news team, analyzing how relationships on social media can be both beneficial and destructive to couples. The article basically discusses the issues of meeting strangers online and the damage that can be done if a significant other posts too much/too little about the relationship on the social network site. The article says the Internet is NOT the place to meet new people and should be utilized as a space to further connect with friends/lovers in real life.

The article is a very negative portrayal of online social relationships, clearly making it known that “there is no substitute for face to face” discourse. The article interviews people from around Salt Lake City on their opinions, all of which make it very clear that formulating relationships online is dangerous business. Interviewees also voice their opinions on being in a relationship on Facebook; they find that it’s dangerous to 1) not make it clear to your friends you’re in a relationship (and thus make it appear that you’re single) and 2) post too much on your Facebook about the details of your relationship, such as obviously directed statuses.

The story highlights some legitimate problems with the formation and maintenance of online relationships, but I think it’s an obvious bias from the author’s point of view. The article title is a bit misleading – it makes it seem as though the story is going to weigh the benefits and losses to social networking relationships, when it really just highlights the latter. It suggests that there is potential to meet people online, but immediately mentions how it’s unlikely, dangerous, and very difficult even if you’re using a dating site.

I think it would have been better if the author really tried to outline the benefits of having relationships online as well, giving more of a weighted balance perspective. Which one would win? After all, I highly doubt that everybody that was interviewed had strictly negative feedback. And if that was the case, she should have made a mention of that – it’d be a significantly more interesting article if that were the case and she’d included statistics, like all 50 people interviewed said online relationships were dangerous. I definitely don’t think it’d only be interesting to present the story like this, but necessary. You always have to see both sides of the story when talking about the cons of something – how can you really understand the cons without knowing the pros? Being able to accurately compare the two is very important in making a logical assessment.

The story in Life 2.0 really analyzed the situation of much more extreme online relationships of people who were so caught up in different worlds to really understand the reality of the relationships they were forming. The one character who was pretending to be a girl in someway embodies the fear interviewees talked about in the article I found – it’s dangerous to make relationships with people online because they’re not always who they appear to be. While the man on Second Life told friends his true identity, you really couldn’t get a sense of who he was without his 11-year old avatar. Likewise, the couple that met and fell in love on Second Life were unable to make the relationship work in real life. The two did not end up being the people they fell in love with – their avatars. While it can definitely be argued the Second Life is more “real” than a site like Facebook because you can hear peoples voices, customize your avatar to look like you, etc. you still cannot get a full understanding of what a person is like in real life. While they may not be acting “fake” on SL, there are definitely aspects of their personality that the online world of social media just don’t have the capacity for, such as the problems that arose from physical labor when the couple were gardening.

While the movie really highlighted an extreme way of forming online relationships, both my article and the film seemed to have the same general direction or theme. Both seemed to be pointing out the dangers of getting caught in the web of forming online relationships – how they can be misleading and dangerous. The film definitely tried to portray social media as somewhat entrapping, which the article really did not, but they both highlight the importance of maintaining skepticism in the people you meet online.

Both the article and the Second Life movie were a bit too extreme, however. There are SL users that play moderately, which means that not everybody on SL is going to have the same experience. For some people it’s just a fun way to interact with new people and that’s it. Similarly, some people are moderate users of Facebook who meet people online in a safe way. Neither the article nor the movie even tried to portray these two sides. I really think it failed to convince me of how dangerous social networking is (which I think was the goal of both). Instead, it made me believe them less because I just wanted to see all angles of the story.

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1 Comment

  1. esdiaz90

     /  February 23, 2012

    Hey Katherine,

    Your post caught my attention because I’m actually very interested in how online relationships happen on social network sites. I have never met or dated anyone online but I have friends and even family who have fallen in love through cyberspace and are now living in very happy marriages and relationships. That’s why I would agree with you in saying that that article you chose, “Social Networking can help and hurt relationships” was extremely biased. It completely left out the “help” and instead focused on the “hurt” part of its title with references to Internet infidelity, damaging self-disclosure, and lack of chemistry when you meet online partners face-to-face. Unfortunately, these do happen on social network sites but that is not always the case. I personally like face-to-face interaction when meeting someone for the first time that I would consider becoming involved with, and using Facebook and other SNS as a means of building and maintaining that relationship. But as the documentary Life 2.0 pointed, some individuals prefer their online presence over their offline selves and would rather show that side to someone special.


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