When Social Media and Friends Collide

By Daryl A. Neipp

In 2013, researchers conducted an online survey and discovered that 78 percent of users have experienced a rise in arguments and hostility within social media platforms. Specific findings include these:

  • 3 in 4 have witnessed an argument on social media;
  • 4 in 5 report rising incivility online;
  • 2 in 5 have blocked, unsubscribed, or unfriended someone as a result;
  • 1 in 5 have reduced in-person contact with someone over a cyber argument;
  • 88 percent believe that people are less polite on social media than in person;
  • 81 percent say emotional conversations held on social media are most often unresolved.

The irony of such findings cannot be missed. After all, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were created for the purpose of sharing, connecting, and expressing. In fact, the web itself was designed to be a social creation. The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, says that he “designed it for a social effect—to help people work together—and not as a technical toy.” Furthermore, Joseph Myers observes in his book Organic Community that “almost all internet language describes relational activity. Blog, RSS, email, Wikipedia, Google, and eBay are all relational verbs, so to speak.”