Monday, November 27, 2017

A Shift in Social Media Relationships

by Bethany Jett @BetJett

Critics say that social media creates less personal face-to-face interaction. “Too often at events or parties, guests are attached to their smartphones tweeting or texting, but no one is truly engaging or interacting with the people around them” (Fowlkes, 2012).

One criticism is that our youth aren’t being taught how to have real conversations because they’re used to communicating behind a screen. I realized that truth when I asked my nine-year-old son to answer my mom’s call while I was driving. His phone mannerism was less than impressive.

Then I realized something. Of course my son didn’t have stellar phone manners. I hadn’t taught him.

His manners had nothing to do with social media and more to do with the small amount of time he’s ever had to talk on the phone. After all, talking to grandparents is way more fun via FaceTime or Skype.

Back to my point. Social media in itself doesn’t create a lack of conversational skills. These skills need to be taught, just like I have to teach my sons how to use the phone. And we have lots of opportunities for face-to-face conversations at school, home, church, and extra-curricular activities. We need to use those opportunities to teach our kids (and practice, ourselves) the art of conversation instead of hiding behind our cells. Similarly, we have to teach our kids the art of communicating online.

Instead of social media creating a deficit, I believe that social media creates a stronger bond in interpersonal relationships.

Here’s why.

The words “Facebook Official” mean that something big has happened, but only the people closest to you knew first. This can be pregnancy announcements, dating relationships, leaving a job, or in my most recent case, when my husband returned home from an overseas military deployment.

Sometimes we don’t want personal information on social media because we have relationships with people who have earned “I get to know first!” status.

We become more personal with where we live as well. Yes, we can sleuth people’s home addresses, but most people don’t give out that information. Some of us don’t even put our phone numbers on our business cards.

As a society, our personal contact information has become sacred, reserved for those closest to us.

And that’s okay.

Even using social media or texting, we decrease the amount of people we want to communicate with. Many of us have group text threads, Facebook family groups, and SnapChat “Group Snaps.” While we may still share a lot of our lives with the entire “interweb,” the important news often gets shared in a different communication model before we let everyone know our business.

Social media isn’t going away. The platforms we use may change but we should embrace where we’re headed. Parents have a responsibility to teach their kids how to communicate on all modes of technology (in an age-appropriate manner) because it’s how they’ll be communicating as adults.

So whether we choose to share our awesome Thanksgiving meals on Facebook or give a play-by-play of our favorite football game on Instagram Stories, let’s be real, authentic, and enjoy that we get to tell our story in our own way.


Bethany Jett is the co-owner of Serious Writer, Inc., and Vice President of Platinum Literary Services where she specializes in marketing, nonfiction proposal creation, ghostwriting, and developmental editing. Her love for email funnels and social media led to her pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in Communication with an emphasis in marketing and public relations.    

Fowlkes, J. (2012, October 11). Viewpoint: Why social media is destroying our social skills. Opinion. USA Today College. Retrieved from

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