How Social Media Affects Our Ability to Communicate

By Stacey Hanke for Thrive Global

What method of communication allows you to learn more about another person: a post on Facebook or a face-to-face conversation? We connect on a deeper, more meaningful level when we converse with others personally, yet studies show an increased dependency on social media. Why? 

Social media is a convenient way of communicating, but it lessens the quality of the connection. Almost two-thirds of U.S. adults admit they use social media to connect. Its rise to prominence changes our ability to interact with others on a meaningful level. Our social skills are challenged to the point that many now struggle to interact in traditional conversations. 

Before social media, the ways in which we connected and how many people we reached were limited. We depended on phone calls and face-to-face interactions to strengthen relationships. On the upside, the latest technology provides endless ways to connect. We can also reach more people than ever. The downside is the way we communicate has also changed, challenging our ability to make meaningful connections. 

One survey revealed that 74 percent of Millennials prefer conversing digitally rather than in person. While this helps them communicate more efficiently, it diminishes their communication effectiveness. The more people use digital communication, the more interpersonal communication skills decline. Our need for rapid bits of information replaces our ability to clearly express thoughts and ideas when speaking to others.

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