Background and Justification
Interpersonal communication can be defined as the exchange of information between individuals to harmonize behavior, thinking, or particular action between individuals engaging in communication. Over time, human interaction has been changing drastically for the last twenty years. The change is due to the arrival of the internet and online communities, and social media. Due to the interaction of people across these platforms, life is becoming fast-paced, and everyone appears to be in a hurry to get to their destination before others. It is as if people have no time to pause for air or greet each other whenever they are together with their acquaintances or friends. Everyone is more interested in knowing what is going on in the world than the events in their friends’ lives. Social media is slowly but surely affecting the way we communicate or live with each other. However, we are all aware of the importance of interpersonal communication in our lives and its effects on our daily decisions and choices. For the past few decades, we are slowly becoming addicts to social media and communicating, moreover mobile than meeting physically. Digital devices are making our lives easier but have added various complications that are sometimes beyond our control. Everyone is becoming victims of social media to the extent that social gatherings with our neighbors or childhood friends have reduced as people talk with each other from every corner of the world.
Many protagonists provide that there is no single chance for the world to turn back to historical times where interpersonal communication was based on physically contacting the individual we need to talk to. Now people prefer to sit down at restaurants and fully spend their quality time glued to the screens of their phones, either texting, updating statuses on Facebook, and Tweeting back to their counterparts on the other end and enjoying their meal at the same time. Social media impacts interpersonal communication because it influences our ability to communicate and interact visibly with one another throughout the corners of society. Gallegos (2020) recognizes that there have been shifts in how we interact with each other as people nowadays prefer talking over the phone instead of face-to-face communication. Most people prefer to communicate over emails and texting over the phone.
Various issues have been surfacing regarding the role social media is playing in interpersonal communication. One of the issues is that many people tend to develop trust over social media platforms. Hence, people tend to engage in open-ended communication with the people on the other end of the communication line. Another perspective is that interactions over the phone are not as strong as face-to-face communication. It does not deepen our association with each other as it is based on the current status quo and trends of everything going on at that time. The last issue is that humans have a high tendency to interact and emulate people who agree with our point of view; therefore, we do not get diversified alternatives to approach a certain issue as it was in the past. Researchers emphasize that if people are keen enough, they will realize how interpersonal communication is changing. Experts continue to question what the future holds for interpersonal communication and social media and its influence on societies. The experts are sure that social media does not promise to slow down soon. They project that it will continue to become more and more integrated within the human experience, similar to how many communication technologies continue to demonstrate. The trends will continue to snowball in volume and get in the way of the human communication process. More people will continue to absorb the interactions irrespective of whether it is bad or good for them (Hendriks, and Strick, 2020).
Impacts of Social Media on Interpersonal Communication
How social media is impacting interpersonal communication within our society has been widely and extensively studied and researched. The literature review will highlight both the negative and positive aspects interpersonal communication and social media have on people’s lives, and researchers are struggling to understand the present and future impacts of this interaction. According to a study done by Gallegos, (2020) the brain has a high tendency to interpret digital interaction similarly as in personal communication, while other studies such as the one conducted by Dredge, and Schreurs, (2020) prove that the difference towards us understanding the interaction continues to differ in terms of our perceptions of one another through online platforms as opposed to physical interactions. Another study reveals that online interaction via online platforms assists us to develop the ability to relate with other people, tolerate different viewpoints, and appropriately demonstrate our feelings and thoughts (Peterson, and High, 2021). Nevertheless, research executed by the National Institute of Health indicates that youths possessing strong and positive face-to-face interactions with each other are communicating with their peers through online platforms.
On the contrary, research studies further reveal that individuals with numerous friends can appear to be paying excessive attention to platforms such as Facebook to attract more friends than gaining popularity. Again, these types of people tend to spend most of their time on computers or phones trying to connect in a mediated environment where they feel comfortable instead of interacting with other people they feel are interfering with their personal space. Similarly, a study indicated that social media hinder the majority of first-year college students from being social in person, and they tend to express themselves and talk more on social media platforms (Nazione, Perrault, and Pace, 2021).
One of the main concerns that the researchers find to be surrounding the impacts of social media on interpersonal communication is learning how they can use it to handle and generate a sense of the information they currently have. Through social media, the world is now able to gather more information from people than in the past, and everyone is under pressure feeling that we need to be given adequate space where we can process and respond to issues on our own. In a real sense, some data suggest that some people are withdrawing from Facebook and Twitter because they find criticism and bullying too much to handle. The researchers also point to social media addiction, where people are withdrawing from the social world and are spending most of their day engulfed on screens instead of socializing with people around them, thus worsening the situation. People who withdraw from social media feel the difficulty of displaying their identity online and cannot distinguish their actions in virtual platforms and real life. Addiction to the internet has also been listed as the main cause of mental breakdown among many people, leading to withdrawal symptoms and absence of concentration. The researchers highlight the urgency for the world to study detrimental impacts brought by addiction to social media to bring them close to diagnosing and understanding the impacts of technology and human relationships.
Negative Impacts of Social Media on Interpersonal Communication
One negative impact of the interaction is the absence of privacy. Interpersonal interaction over social media has been changing for many decades now. There is a possibility that we might leak information we did not intend to share on these platforms but rather through face-to-face interactions. The social media platforms are highly searchable even after turning on private settings, thus raising the possibility of leaking confidential information.
From another perspective, the negativity surrounding social media platforms has been growing uncontrollably, fueled by the tendency to share information with our loved ones who are many miles away. Individuals across these platforms exchange messages at high speeds than ever before in human history. As information gets shared rapidly across these platforms, the world appears to be becoming smaller with each minute. The more people sharing the content, there is a high possibility that the original intention of the message will be distorted in the process bearing in mind that a lot of people are addicts, spending most of their time online. The distortion attracts negative impacts to the initial sender of the message as many people receive the message in a way that was not outstanding, further deteriorating their self-esteem. In other times, they find themselves in trouble with the law due to misinterpretation. Before the arrival of social media and the internet, interpersonal communication was highly supported (McLaren, and Sillars, 2020). People were limited to only interact with people within their geographical locations; thus, privacy was highly safeguarded, and there were few cases of suicidal thoughts among the community members. However, with the arrival of social media, interpersonal communication continues to be distorted every day as many people and organization are shifting their daily operations to online than physical contact. This greatly hinders the development of effective teamwork as employees no longer hold meetings to brainstorm on issues facing the organization and their world.
Positive Impacts of Social Media on Interpersonal Communication
One of the major positive impacts of the interaction is that it has changed the way we socialize with each other due to social media networks. It is gaining the full attention of everyone in the world. Due to social media, we can easily connect with millions of people worldwide; thus, we can establish trust and help us whenever we get stuck in life. In the absence of social media, establishing these links was difficult. Therefore, social media creates a platform where we can exchange opinions with a diversified audience. Another massive transition is that with advancements in technology, people are coming up with better strategies to filter whatever we want to post on our social media platforms. Compared to historical times, humans had no way of sharing their concerns and got solid solutions to their problems regardless of the freedom of speech assigned to them.
Social media is also changing the way we socialize with each other. It has helped the people who are unable to socialize with other people in a physical setting freely. With social media, introverted individuals can freely share information on social media platforms. They can seek the help they need from the outside world without being afraid of being judged and discriminated against by their physical society. Social media is becoming one of the dominant ways in which people associate and express their real selves. They are becoming more drawn to keep in touch with their screens from time to time during the day and engage in meaningful and helpful conversation with friends and families ensuring they provide them with everything they need (MacNeil-Kelly, 2020). Social media is like a double-edged sword as it provides us with a good site of distraction from stress in our lives, and at the same time, it provides us with helpful and quality information which we can put into use to achieve better things in life.
We can argue that social media networks affect our interpersonal communication by changing the way we communicate ideas and writing skills. Social media has made interpersonal communication through writing by enabling us to write messages in a more effective and summarized format that is easy to understand and respond to within a short period. We can relay vast information to our friends informed of short paragraphs with minimal grammar mistakes. The use of abbreviations to symbolize what we want to say is becoming more prevalent, thus creating a new way of communication. For instance, people are using abbreviations such as TTYL to mean Talk to You Later to let the other person know that they will contact them at a later time during the day. Recently, there is no accurate way to communicate with loved ones as people continue to adopt more new and effective languages which they can comfortably use and understand each other.
Social media is assisting interpersonal interactions in the business world to a great extent. For instance, social media is becoming the most dominant form of marketing strategy across many organizations. Even though social media is a relatively new strategy in the business world, it is hard to deny that it is taking marketing efforts by the organization by storm. Social media has made it possible for entities to communicate with a larger audience than the one concealed in their physical locations. When communicating to their target audience, social media has helped enable them to establish a two-way communication where organizations can get feedback on how their products are doing in the market and how they interact with them. It also helps determine if their marketing efforts are effective depending on the number of new leads generated in the process. This form of interpersonal interaction through social media is important in assisting businesses in learning of their weaknesses and using the relevant resources to rectify them (Trekels, and Eggermont, 2021).
Additionally, social media is of great help to small businesses. It offers them an equal opportunity to be heard by the world, thus providing a fair opportunity for them to excel. This is important as social media also ensures that everyone can use the information provided to them by the platforms and succeed in life.
Social media has been helpful as it has made interpersonal communication effective by eliminating all barriers of effective communication by allowing people to express their opinion on a wide number of topics freely. Students and researchers can now exchange information on a particular topic which is important in bringing positive changes to our society.
Explanation of Theories
Communication Accommodating Theory
The theory tends to elaborate on the tendency of humans to adjust their behavior while interacting with each other. The main reason for this is to control the existing social differences between the people interacting with each other. According to Dr. Stevens, people have a habit of accommodating other people’s conversation to get approval from other people and establish a positive image for themselves in front of other people. The theory further explains that the environment in which people interact plays a great role in influencing their behavior (West and Turner, 2021). The theory explains that two accommodation processes enable people to accommodate other peoples’ opinions to get approval. The first one is the convergence process, where people are inclined to adopt other people’s communication attributes to declining the social differences among them. The second is the divergence process, which contradicts adaptation techniques, where one individual emphasizes the non-verbal and social differences between them.
The theory situates that the two theories are normally dependent on the attributes of the individuals interacting with each other. The theory points out that people tend to accommodate the person who possesses high standards and portrays characteristics that they believe are better than theirs. The divergence also exhibits contradicting attributes that pay serious attention to the differences among the conversing people amongst the close relationship between them.
The theory operates based on the following assumptions. The first assumption is that during the communication process, similarities and differences in speech will be present. There will also be a change in behavior between the conversant as they have different experiences and cultural backgrounds that they grew up in. Another assumption is that the conversation will be evaluated by understanding the perception of behavior and speech with each other. During the evaluation process, the people are provided with the freedom to make decisions that will allow them to accommodate each other’s opinions, thus allowing them to fit in. The third assumption of the theory is that their behaviors and language are influenced by the sense of belonging and social status between the people interacting with each other. While people are talking to each other, they are likely to accommodate their conversation depending on their statuses. The last assumption is that the interaction process establishes norms and guidelines that the accommodation process will follow, which vary in terms of the degree of appropriateness. Also, the norms developed in the process play a great role in defining people’s behaviors towards each other as it expects them to act accordingly.
Agenda Setting Theory
The theory supports that mass media entities play a great role in determining the type of news the general population perceives as newsworthy by making decisions that revolve around the amount of attention a particular story will receive. The theory uses the term salience transfer to imply the media’s capacity to transfer their main agendas to gain acceptance by the public. The theory is based on two main assumptions (West and Turner, 2021). The first assumption is that the media takes a lot of time filtering and shaping the reality of the news they gathered instead of reflecting on it. A good example is that the news is not presented in chronological order or by the number of people affected. Instead, they are arranged in the order the editor considers to bear sentimental meaning after they are viewed. The second assumption is that the media only pays to certain issues in the news, which the public is likely to name as the most significant in their lives. The theory, therefore, situates that when the media is coming up with certain agendas, they do not focus on telling people how they should think or feel about particular issues in the news. Still, instead, they provide them with a direct channel in which they should use to think and not their own opinions.
The developers of the theory admit that the world of mass communication is changing and advancing rapidly, and it has changed the way experts approach a particular plan. Nowadays, there is a lot of information that we sometimes find quite overwhelming to consume and look at. Therefore, we are provided with the opportunity to decide what we want to consume while ignoring the information we do not add value to our values. In connection to this, the theory identifies two motives which enable us to make such difficult decision. The motives that tend to propel consumption of information are uncertainty and relevance. People in modern society seek to consume only the information that affects their lives directly and have less interest in knowing issues that do not concern them.
Dredge, R., and Schreurs, L. (2020). Social Media Use and Offline Interpersonal Outcomes during Youth: A Systematic Literature Review. Mass Communication and Society, 23(6), 885–911. https://doi-org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.1080/15205436.2020.1810277.
Gallegos, M. L. (2020). Teaching the staircase model of relationships through social media browsing. Communication Teacher, 34(4), 292–299. https://doi-org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.1080/17404622.2020.1717565
Hendriks, H., and Strick, M. (2020). A Laughing Matter? How Humor in Alcohol Ads Influences Interpersonal Communication and Persuasion. Health Communication, 35(14), 1821–1829. https://doi-org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.1080/10410236.2019.1663587
MacNeil-Kelly, T. (2020). From online to offline dating: Towards a theory of relationship progression. Florida Communication Journal, 48(2), 149–164. https://search-ebscohost-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login.aspx?direct=trueanddb=cmsandAN=148276120andsite=ehost-liveandscope=site.
McLaren, R. M., and Sillars, A. (2020). Parent and adolescent conversations about hurt: How interaction patterns predict empathic accuracy and perceived understanding. Communication Monographs, 87(3), 312–335. https://doi-org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.1080/03637751.2020.1722848
Nazione, S., Perrault, E., and Pace, K. (2021). Impact of Information Exposure on Perceived Risk, Efficacy, and Preventative Behaviors at the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States. Health Communication, 36(1), 23–31. https://doi-org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.1080/10410236.2020.1847446
Peterson, A. M., and High, A. C. (2021). Examining relationships among strategies of social information seeking on Facebook and perceived accuracy of information through warranting value and source trust. Communication Monographs, 88(1), 26–47. https://doi-org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.1080/03637751.2020.1849753
Trekels, J., and Eggermont, S. (2021). Me, Myself, and My Favorite Media Figure: An Objectification Perspective on the Role of Media and Peers in Early Adolescents’ Self-sexualization. Mass Communication and Society, 24(1), 31–56. https://doi org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/10.1080/15205436.2020.1817943
West, R. and Turner, L.H. (2021). Introducing communication theory: Analysis and application (7th ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.