What Will the Internet Do For Social Relations?

While nothing can simulate face-to-face conversation, the Internet certainly complements, and the results of a recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project suggest that the social benefits far outweigh the negatives.

Whether through social networks, email, Twitter, or Facebook, the Internet and its corresponding array of social media tools lowers traditional communications constraints of cost, geography, and time, allowing people to connect and share information in ways once never thought possible. When it comes to communication, place is quickly becoming a non-factor. Plugged in via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, 3G, or even Satellite, these and other networking technologies have extended our reach, shaping and reshaping our social lives.

Of the 895 non-random online survey respondents, consisting of technology stakeholders and critics, 85% agreed with the following statement:

In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a positive force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.

14% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited:

In 2020, when I look at the big picture and consider my personal friendships, marriage and other relationships, I see that the internet has mostly been a negative force on my social world. And this will only grow more true in the future.

Though negatives were noted by respondents (e.g. time spent online robs time from important face-to-face relationships, the exposure of private information, the potential for shallow relationship building, and etc.), the Internet has powered a social media revolution.

How do you see the Internet and social media shaping human relations in years to come?

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