A new study by Oxford University scientist Dr. Bernie Hogan is offering a startling suggestion: that too much social media is actually harming our relationships instead of bringing us closer.
Media Multiplexity using multiple media channels to communicate is at the heart of the problem, apparently. While presenting his study at the Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society recently, Dr. Hogan stated, “This theory was first put forward in an era of email, chat and telephone conversations. However, we are now firmly in the age of digital communication with social media really taking off. We wanted to see if these more diverse communications channels strengthened relationship ties in the digital era.”
After interviewing 24,000 people in “marital relationships,” Dr. Hogan found that people reported not only no increase in satisfaction with their partner relationships, he also found that some actually claimed to be less happy in their relationships than before.
While this is indeed interesting and there is no doubt that social media increases exposure to other people and ideas about life, possibly leading to less happiness with one’s lot in life, including your marriage the title of Dr. Hogan’s presentation was actually “Facebook Friends Aren’t Real Friends.” How married relationships respond to increased social media activity is one thing; but how it impacts friendships is quite another.
In the mom blogging community, I feel quite comfortable saying that there is little doubt that social media growth has made it far easier for us to keep tabs on the women we’ve met through blogging. After all, not only can we keep up with each other’s blogs, but we can watch kids grow on Facebook, here about daily joys and frustrations on Twitter, and more. Personally I feel like social media has only helped grow and deepen my relationships, not hurt them.
And my marriage is just fine, thanks.
How about you? Do you feel like Dr. Hogan’s research hits the mark? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!