The arguments are endless: social networks make us happy, social networks make us sad, social networks bring us closer to people, social networks isolate us, our digital selves are separate from our physical selves, or our digital selves and physical selves are one in the same. The only answer to these debates is science, and even science has been swinging in all directions. Social networking use has such a broad range of effects on society because no two individuals are alike in their social media use and mental state.
A new study shows how active Twitter use could lead to divorce and infidelity. Studies of Facebook’s effect on our relationship show similar results as well, one of which is that Facebook leads to jealousy in a relationship. These damaging effects on romantic relationships are a result of social networking sites becoming problematic within the relationship. However, what about all the benefits of social media on our relationships? I’ve been in a long distance relationship for three years, something that would’ve been impossible without the help of social apps and new technologies. These arguments stands true for all relationships, not just romantic ones.
To appease these debates, I put forward an equation that seeks to identify the line at which social media begins to take it’s toll on our relationships. Social media brings us closer to those that are physically far away, but pushed us far away from those we are physically close to. This is an inverse proportional relationship between distance and our social media use. In order to maintain a relationship with those near to us, it may be key to deduce our personal social media use. In order to maintain a relationship with those far, we may have to step our social media presence up a notch.
steady relationship = distance * social media use
I have by no means worked out the particulars of the equation. Perhaps you rate the intensity of the relationship you wish to maintain 1-100, you scale distance 1-10 by how often you are physically in each other’s presences with 10 being the most, and you rank your social media use 1-10 as well, with 10 being the most. I am no mathematician. Numerically this formula may be inapplicable. Conceptually, however, I think it is something we all should be taking into account.