Since the 1970s, technology has had an increasing impact on people's lives, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the way society has harnessed the Internet. Access to this global communication channel has revolutionized the way people enter into social relationships, with online dating enabling singles to reach out to prospective partners at the click of their fingers. But has this been a force for good or bad? As with most things in life, the truth is a lot more complicated. Here are some of the ways the Internet has affected relationships, positively and negatively.
The singular greatest property of the Internet on social relationships has been its connectivity. When you go onto any website to start socializing, whether that's something like Instagram or a dating site, you instantly have the potential to connect with a network which straddles the globe. Instead of striking up a conversation with people you might also have brushed by in your local club, you could start getting to know someone from a completely different cultural background.
Another way the Internet has impacted social interaction has been with the speed you are now able to form relationships. Smart devices and computers are increasingly designed to be as streamlined as possible, with software which will transcribe your speech into text the moment you've dictated it. Do a modicum of editing then you're good to go. Messages can be sent 24/7 and replied to with just as much haste.
The Internet has totally overhauled the dating world. Within the past couple of decades, singles were still mainly relying on bars and clubs, liaisons arranged by mutual friends or adverts in their local newspaper. Online dating has provided a whole new dimension of choice, with site users able to select prospective partners based on parameters of their own choosing and flirt with them online. You are very much in the driving seat, and under no obligation to persist with trying to get familiar with any one person – if the conversation isn't flowing you can swiftly move on. There isn't so much more fish in the sea as shoal after shoal in a vast virtual ocean!
Social development and education
Where relationships can really feel the benefit of the Internet is where education and development are concerned. This aspect covers everything from the software which corrects your grammar and spelling while you type your communications, through to instant access to every encyclopedia or reference book known to humankind, as long as the volume in question has been digitized and added to the numerous online libraries. As well as establishing penfriends in different countries, you can teach yourself their native language and learn their customs.
It wouldn't be fair simply listing the pluses without underscoring some of the negative impacts the Internet has had on social relationships. With the advent of social media and people focusing on themselves, utilizing the likes of Photoshop to ensure perfect, if misleading, images are presented to the outside world, there has been a parallel rise in people feeling body shamed, or harangued by trolls poking fun at any perceived imperfections. This has led to severe self-esteem issues, and in some cases, mental health has been impacted.
Lack of commitment
Because there is so much choice on the aforementioned dating sites, many singles have developed a severe strain of virtual impatience. They'll interact with one person but only for as long as it takes for them to browse to the next profile description to catch their eye. This can lead to an atmosphere of mistrust, especially when you are chatting to someone you've never actually met.