Social Miscommunication: How Your Virtual Interactions Affect Your Personal Relationships

“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”George Bernard Shaw

Do you ever find that you communicate differently through text messages /social media than you do in real-life conversations?

Do you feel comfortable when you speak to someone face-to-face?

There has been a rapid evolution in how people communicate and express themselves in the past twenty years. The use of social media has made communication more convenient and accessible by allowing us to speak to others through text at any time of day within an instant. However, many individuals find that their feelings, emotions, intentions, and values get lost in translation when expressing themselves to others. Part of our personality gets misplaced when we attempt to translate genuine feelings into written words. There is a noticeable loss of verbal and personal connection, which can cause frustration, anger, dissonance, and disconnect.

A survey conducted by behavioral scientist and relationship coach, Clarissa Silvia, reveals:

·    60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way

·    50% reported social media having adverse effects on their relationship

·    80% reported that is easier to deceive others through their social posting

Although the digital space has expanded our capabilities of finding like-minded groups, meeting new people from different places of the world, and vastly expanding our ability to find reliable information, people often rely too heavily on their online connections and neglect their interpersonal skills.

Many people find themselves subconsciously browsing through social media feeds during work or school and while they are on dates or during gatherings with friends or family. The distraction of social media has almost become a priority and a means of escaping intimate, meaningful experiences, and conversations. Although this behavior is prominent, it is often unintended. People have become addicted to picking up their phones and have developed tendencies to avoid social interactions in person.

Some people feel an inflated sense of ego when they can rely on the comfort of anonymity, which allows them to say things that they would not say in person to people whom they would never communicate with on forums, such as Facebook and Reddit. The idea that people can express themselves without any repercussions can lead to an argumentative development in personality.

Imagine saying something under the guise of broadcasting an inaccurate depiction of yourself. Exaggerated feelings evoke dramatic behaviors that would not usually be acted on and create a persona that is not always congruent with the true self. It is easier to type something aggressive to someone rather than saying it to their face.

People who demonstrate behaviors differently in person than they do online will sometimes repress their internal monologue, which leads to hiding their feelings. Often, partners and family members observe that these individuals are more withdrawn and less present. These individuals have a difficult time expanding their social circles beyond their online friend groups.

The dynamic of a relationship can also be by social media involvement. Arguments can potentially stem from being overly consumed with their phone activity rather than granting attention to their partner. Miscommunication can occur if one person demonstrates an action misinterpreted—for example, a person liking an image that might make the partner feel compared or self-conscious.

Miscommunication often leads to frustration, anger, and potential escalation. Avoidance could conjure feelings of passive neglect.

Here are ten things you can do to prevent these instances from occurring:

  1. Be present in your conversations
  2. Be open and communicate your emotions during face-to-face interactions.
  3. Limit the amount of time you spend on your phone
  4. Refrain from arguments on social media. Be the bigger person 
  5.   Learn how to apologize to those who felt ignored during a time you were distracted
  6.   Identify emotions connected to jealousy, frustration, and ultimately anger
  7.  Actively listen when you are engaging with others
  8.  Unsubscribe from social media sources that make you feel compared or frustrated
  9.  Find a productive way to embrace your true self without seeking affirmation or conflict
  10.  Make time for the people in your life,  without taking out your phone!

It is essential to unplug from your devices from time to time, or else you may find that you are disconnecting from your real-life social circle.

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