Communities and Social Media

The fundamental changes in how digital users form and engage in social relationships on social media has negative consequences in offline relationships and well-being.


This paper covers the issues which have arisen from social media’s role in the modern world in forming and engaging in social relationships and how this impacts offline relationships and well-being. The writing focuses on issues in communication, identity, perceptions of relationships and the changing landscape of intimacy at the hands of social networks. The paper outlines the fundamental changes that have occurred and explains how this impacts users offline in forming meaningful relationships. It identifies the long-term problems a lack of change could bring on social and intimate relationships and mental health. It argues that, particularly for the sake of future generations, there needs to be a massive overhaul in how we manage social media’s impact on relationship making and intimacy.  The paper takes from research in the fields of social media and digital communities and presents strong points about a need for change in what is now ingrained practice. The research presents a cautious approach to the study of social media and its impact on our relationships and well-being. It can be useful in understanding how social media has re-shaped basic relationship building practices in our lives and ask questions about the sustainability of these changes.


Social media has completely reshaped how its users create and maintain social relationships. These changes have negatively impacted how social media users manage their relationships and well-being in offline spaces. This paper analyses how social media and the surrounding digital communities are affected by a distinct lack of focus on offline skills and practices. Changes in communication practices including identity formation, relationship management and intimate life have contributed to a number of harmful consequences for social media users on social communications. The erosion of person-to-person communication skills and growing confusion about identity and perceptions of relationships in online spaces impacts on users when engaging in offline social settings. This also affects the formation of intimate relationships with online dating communities challenging understandings of intimacy. These issues need to be addressed before society becomes even more ingrained with social media and is a key to current and future generations’ relationships and well-being.

Communication Skills

Before social media became an everyday tool for people to form and engage in social relationships, friendships and intimate relationships grew through shared experiences, interests and intimacies based on personal presence and direct communications. Communications were usually verbal, including facial and body language.  Three significant changes in the way people communicate on social media: the form of communications; its lack of intimacy; and its superficiality; have bought about a sharp decline in the communication skills needed to form meaningful relationships in the offline world.

The form of social media communications involves no physical presence and is mainly non-verbal. It includes images, GIFs, videos, and little or no text. It is not spontaneous but mediated, with users considering, creating and reviewing their posts before they make them. While these are important communications skills for social media, they are not the skills needed in offline relationships where people must speak and use words meaningfully without computer mediation. People improve their skills and communications through practice.  With an estimated 18 million Australian social media users (Kemp, 2020) honing their social media skills, rather than practicing and improving the verbal communication skills they need in offline relationships, there are causes for concern for relationship building in the offline world.

Secondly, social media creates a lack of intimacy which is fundamental to forming offline relationships. It involves broadcasting information to a group of ‘friends’, who can then share it with their communities. Turkle (as cited in Nordness 2015 p.2) argues that social media is draining intimacy due to the lack of privacy involved in broadcasting our lives. Users are relying on computer-mediated communication to create a feeling of intimacy, rather than true intimacy created by offline communication practices. In addition, rather than sharing intimate details in a one-on-one setting, social media users are communicating these details to everyone which Nordness (2015 p.2) describes as removing the significance and personability of communication.  The mass communication element of social media also affects social presence. Hampton (2016 p.103) outlines how person-to-network communication results in limited social presence due to the broadcasting of a whole range of personal content.  Trust, sharing of confidences and honesty are essential elements for intimacy in offline relationships. Social media’s lack of, or false intimacy erodes the person-to-person skills needed to have meaningful offline relationships. It blurs the lines of intimacy in ways that challenge whether users even understand the concept.  This does not set them up well in the offline world.

Finally, social media communications are raising a generation of shallow communicators and relationships, which Wang et al. (2014 p.230) describe as “superficial, shallow and short-lived.” Social media allows users to present their ideal selves. Rather than communicating the full story, social media users filter their lives and showing only what they want to. None of this is possible in offline relationships, where what you see is what you get, with little room for filtering or hiding.  Social media gives people a platform to present unrealistic representations of themselves, which can be incredibly detrimental in building and maintaining social relationships in offline spaces, due to a lack of depth or confidence in their real self. Overall, personal communication practices are being affected by the rise of social media across a multitude of issues which in turn is detrimental to social relationships. It also creates a whole new perception of social relationships and identity, which do not align with the reality of offline relationships.

Perceptions of Relationships and Identity

Most people have social media ‘friends’ who are barely acquaintances in the pre-digital sense. Online friendship is verified in different ways depending on the platform. By ‘friending’ or ‘following’ someone, social media is solidifying online ‘friendships.’ Miller et al. (2016 p.108) discuss online relationships as an “official verification.” Rather than communicating and relating to each other in the offline world, social media makes users believe that friendship is verified by social media and not by communication, trust and honesty. Rather than knowing who your friends are through social interaction and strong connections, social media requires relationships to be broadcast and certified.  This redefining and verification process does not align with what friendships are and how they are validated offline.

The blurring of online and offline identity on social media can also cause users issues with offline friendships. Users must live up to the online persona they have built which can cause issues in offline contexts. Not only do users have to maintain this identity, they have to present it to friends who may know them outside social media and who don’t see this as a true representation.  Lima et al. (2017 p.10) discuss the need for caution in living a “second-life” through social media identity in regard to friendships. This caution arises from the blurring of offline and online identities and how that affects relationships.  As social media continues to influence users’ perceptions of relationships and identity, their understandings about these vital relationship issues and the skills they need to form meaningful relationships will continue to falter. Social media has not only created these challenges and uncertainty in non-sexual relationships, but these issues are also evident in the online foundation and structure for sex and romantic love.

Intimate Relationships

While intimacy is important to social relationships, social media has taken people’s desire for intimacy to another level.  As a form of social media (Licoppe, 2019 p.87), dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble enable people to initially search for and form intimate relationships online before personal interaction occurs. These apps have caused a massive change in the process of romance and how intimate relationships are formed. A dating platform that offers endless choices of partner, with a photograph and bio, and lets you get to know them before meeting them may sound like a good idea to the pre-digital generations, who had to rely on meeting someone in their everyday lives. However, the reality shows that negative consequences arise for dating app users in offline relationships, relating to identity, motivation and security.

Dating apps allow users to engage in online relationships with few boundaries. Users can present themselves however they like.  Their dating identity can be quite different to their real identity, or even false. These problems were less prevalent in traditional offline dating contexts due to the initiation of relationships from person-to-person communication. Turizo (2018, p.38) discusses Tinder users using the app as a way to explore a separate identity to their offline one. Building an offline relationship where there is identity misrepresentation online presents challenges for both parties – one has to sustain or admit the lie, and the other has to confront issues of trust and honesty which are integral to intimate relationships. This can be incredibly damaging for offline relationship building.

User motivations on dating apps range widely (Ward, 2016 p.1649). Many seek real, strong connections that lead to an intimate offline relationship. Others use it for amusement.  Ward (2016 p.1650) describes dating apps as a “game” to some users. Rather than forming strong, meaningful relationships online and strengthening these offline, people use these platforms for amusement, motivated by reasons such as creating feelings of self-worth or simply wasting time for entertainment (Ward, 2016 p. 1649). There are also others who use the anonymity of these apps to abuse and degrade women.  Licoppe’s (2019 p.83) “Tinder Nightmares” discusses females’ reporting of aggressive and sexual encounters online with men. He also describes forums where men post their conversational successes with women as a kind of masculinity contest. Where motivations collide, once the conversations and emotions move offline there will be challenging experiences for those ultimately looking for a meaningful intimate relationship. In some cases, there will be serious risks.  Experiences like being ‘played’ by someone for their entertainment or being abused by someone because they can, erode confidence and trust on and offline, severely impacting a user’s ability to have strong offline relationships. For the other party, these behaviours generate unrealistic and often unsafe representations of what dating transitions into in offline spaces, where the behaviour would not be tolerated. It blurs understandings of what is normal and tolerated in offline social contexts. This is harmful to both male and females and creates uncertainty about what offline intimacy should and does look like. With Iqbal (2021) reporting that the majority of Tinder users are aged 18-24 with over half that U.S demographic using the app, these young adults enter the dating world, with dating apps shaping their ideas about intimate relationships. Issues of identity, motivation and the risks of dating apps present significant challenges and cause ongoing effects in the development of intimacy in future generations.

Central to all of these negative consequences is the impact they have on building meaningful social and intimate relationships offline. Offline relationships are essential for human health and well-being.  Lima et al. (2017 p.20) identifies serious mental health issues associated with the lack of effort being put into offline relationships and stresses the importance of maintaining offline relationships as an integral part of good mental health. This is due to the internal gratification that only face-to-face and verbal cues can give us. The insignificance of a ‘like’ or ‘retweet’ compared to a smile or a hug explains why the focus must be re-oriented back to offline relationships.  The high rate of social media use by children raises serious concerns about the next generation’s ability to build offline relationships, and their mental health. Chaffey (2021) reports that 21% of 8–11-year-old’s have a social media profile which jumps to 71% in 12–15-year-olds. These children, who Miller (2016 p.100) describes as “digital natives”, were born into a digital world where they are forced to adopt digital technologies in growth, learning, entertainment and communication without absorbing key skills needed to survive and thrive in offline spaces.

As a result, reports indicate mental health issues arising from children’s reliance on social media are having a huge impact. Appel et al. (2019 p.61) warn that those born after 2000 who have grown up with social media are “on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.” Scholars such as Odaci & Kalkan (2010 p. 1092) back this up by pointing out the loneliness and shyness to which young people using the Internet and social media are susceptible to. When mental health starts to play a part in our relationship with social media, the warning signs need to be addressed. With this in mind, society needs to return to focusing on non-computer mediated communication and relationships whilst working on the vital skills that are needed to function and thrive in the offline world. At very least, this is vital for future generations who have no choice in being born into the digital world.


The changes that have occurred since social media has become ingrained into modern life is responsible for a number of negative consequences in how we engage, form and manage offline relationships and well-being. The decimation of person-to person communication skills has had a massive impact on how users operate in offline spaces. In addition, the blurring of identity in social media spaces has left users confused about their offline identity and how they fit in outside the confines of the digital world. This is having a direct effect on users’ perceptions of relationships and how they form and manage them. Dating apps have compounded these issues by confusing users’ understanding of intimacy and how to manage intimacy once it moves from behind a screen. It is also incredibly harmful for users who are learning unsustainable and unsafe practices through the online nature and perceived anonymity of these apps. As social media users navigate the confusing and uncertain landscape of these apps, there is a clear lack of focus on how these apps are affecting us offline although studies establishing the mental health consequences are very clear. There needs to be a change in the balance between social media and offline relationships, to allow offline relationships to thrive. The digital generation has let their offline relationships and well-being slip due to their captivation with social media. It is now up to them to find a balance and make sure future generations aren’t exposed to the negative consequence’s social media causes for offline relationships and well-being.


Appel, M., Marker, C., & Gnambs, T. (2019). Are Social Media Ruining Our Lives? A Review of Meta-Analytic Evidence. Review of General Psychology, 24(1), 60-74. doi:10.1177/1089268019880891

Chaffey, D. (2021, March 11). Global social media statistics research summary [updated 2021]. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from

Hampton, K. N. (2016). Persistent and Pervasive Community. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(1), 101-124. doi:10.1177/0002764215601714

Iqbal, M. (2021, March 17). Tinder Revenue and Usage Statistics (2021). Retrieved March 23, 2021, from

Kemp, S. (2020, February 13). Digital 2020: Australia – DataReportal – Global Digital Insights. Retrieved from were 18.00 million social,at 71% in January 2020.

Licoppe, C. (2019). Liquidity and attachment in the mobile hookup culture. A comparative study of contrasted interactional patterns in the main uses of Grindr and Tinder. Journal of Cultural Economy, 13(1), 73-90. doi:10.1080/17530350.2019.1607530

Lima, M. L., Marques, S., Muiños, G., & Camilo, C. (2017). All You Need Is Facebook Friends? Associations between Online and Face-to-Face Friendships and Health. Frontiers in Psychology, 08. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00068

Miller, D., Costa, E., Haynes, N., McDonald, T., Nicolescu, R., Sinanan, J., . . . Wang, X. (2016). Online and Offline Relationships. In How the World Changed Social Media (pp. 100-113). London: UCL Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt1g69z35

Nordness, E. S. (2015). Social Media, Relationships, and Young Adults. MSW Clinical Research Paper, 1-53. Retrieved from

Odacı, H., & Kalkan, M. (2010). Problematic Internet use, loneliness and dating anxiety among young adult university students. Computers & Education, 55(3), 1091-1097. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2010.05.006

Turizo, A. D. (2018). Constructed Identities and Perpetuated Inequalities in App Dating. Anthropology Senior Theses, 1-45. Retrieved from

Wang, J., Jackson, L. A., Gaskin, J., & Wang, H. (2014). The effects of Social Networking Site (SNS) use on college students’ friendship and well-being. Computers in Human Behavior, 37, 229-236. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.04.051

Ward, J. (2016). What are you doing on Tinder? Impression management on a matchmaking mobile app. Information, Communication & Society, 20(11), 1644-1659. doi:10.1080/1369118x.2016.1252412

16 thoughts on “The fundamental changes in how digital users form and engage in social relationships on social media has negative consequences in offline relationships and well-being.

  1. Hi Declan,

    I found your ideas fascinating and very insightful. In your conclusion you wrote that ‘The decimation of person-to person communication skills has had a massive impact on how users operate in offline spaces. In addition, the blurring of identity in social media spaces has left users confused about their offline identity and how they fit in outside the confines of the digital world’.
    These assertions really made me think and I have to say I really agree with you here. Not so much in my own personal communication experiences but I have certainly witnessed this degradation in regards to my brother who is younger and more ingrained in online social spaces. Last weekend I visited my family and my brother (who is 21) had fallen out with a group of friends over what was essentially miscommunication. They had made plans to meet up with each other via a playstation group chat of which my brother was not a part of (he does not play playstation). They had then mentioned these plans on their Facebook messanger group chat and my brother was confused and annoyed because he thought he had not been invited/ no one would tell him the exact details and so he missed the offline social opportunity. It turns out they had forgotten he was not a part of the gaming chat and so the contiuation of the conversation on another messanging app would not make sense to him. When I asked why he did not just call them to ascertain what was going on he replied that they don’t ever call each other, it’s just not something they would ever do and probably no one would not even pick up the phone and he also did not have their actual phone numbers.
    A bit of a long story sorry! But I think it really exemplifies what you were saying in regards to the degradation of person to person communication skills. Even in regards to identity it is as if these social sites facilitate a specific persona that then translates offline. Such as in this group of people being unable to communicate outside of the ‘messaging’ sphere and their unwillingness to do so has become almost an aspect of personality and not a hinderance to effective personal communication. There is (as you mentioned) a lack of intimacy in these types of communcation practices where ideas are broadcast with little thought for the individual, and very human intricacies of communication such as feelings or nuance of personality are pushed to the kerb.
    Thank you for your well researched and interesting paper Declan! I thoroughly enjoyed it and it forced me to think about how communication is a skill after all, and how we might need to readress what is convenient communication vs what is meaningful communication.


    1. Hi Jessica,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I find it really interesting when you mentioned the story about your brother as I have been thinking recently about the little differences in age brackets within generations. For example, I find that when I talk to my younger friends (18-22ish) I’ve met through sport or work, it is almost exclusively through FB messenger. When I ask for their number for convenience, its always comes as a bit of a shock as it seems to be a strange concept to them. In contrast, I am 25 and almost all of my close friends around my age communicate via text message with the occasional phone call when I need to be more direct, clear something up or have a proper catch up. Again, my brother is nearly 30 and he is similair but probably utilises phone calls more often. I’ve always felt text messaging was slightly more intimate as I probably only text 10-20 people but FB messenger gives me access to 100s of people I barely even know. So I wonder why I would message friends or acquaintances on the same platform. I don’t blame your brother at all for his predicament as it seems that is just the way ‘digital natives’ have been programmed to respond to communication breakdowns. I’ve seen similair things happen to those in his age bracket and the responses have been similair.

      I’m glad I’ve got you thinking about what is convenient communication vs what is meaningful communication, as it something I have tried to try and take more seriously since researching and writing this paper. Thought I’d take my own advice and step back from social media and have found myself more fulfilled in most of my relationships for doing so. I hope that as we learn more about social media and how its affecting our offline lives, people might reassess what is important to them in the digital world and start communicating a little more meaningfully.

      Thanks again for your comment and kind words.


  2. Hi Declan,

    I shared with your concern that while social media is good for online communication and relationship building, it has negative impact on offline relationship which needs interpersonal or in-person communication skills. Often, people display a good image of themselves in social media but you only see their true colours when you get to know them in person or offline. My advise to all dating apps users is that they need to exercise caution and do not trust 100% on such social media platform to build intimate friendship with another party.

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Elaine,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on my paper.

      Completely agree with everything you have said. I like the idea of digital technology not showing someone’s true colours. It’s an interesting thought given all the functions these platforms have for personalisation but seemingly are often taken advantage of for personal gain,. Never understood the appeal of portraying an inaccurate image online, but each to their own!

      Thanks again,

  3. Hi Declan,
    I really enjoyed reading your paper as I have noticed similar changes in social relationships because of social media and feel that your arguments are well justified. Personally, I’ve experienced both positive and negative effects of personal communication practices via social media. For example, a few years ago my aunt sent a birthday invitation to my parents only via Facebook Messenger. My parents who are not tech-savvy had no idea that they had even received an e-invite until my dad called to say happy birthday. The miscommunication left my parents feeling disconnected, especially after the photos from the party were uploaded publicly to Facebook. On the other hand, social media helped me develop and build various relationships with people across the country and globe. I’ve often felt that I’m able to connect and establish more meaningful and long-lasting relationships thanks to the affordances of the Internet. For example, I joined an online fandom community which I’ve now been a part of for the last 14 years. I believe this has only been possible because of computer-mediated communication, which has had positive effects on my well-being and mental health. I’m interested to know about your experiences regarding social relationships on social media and whether you have experienced more positive or negative consequences? Also, what changes would you implement to improve interpersonal relationships on social media?

    1. Hi Karla,

      Thank you for your comment, you have made some really interesting insights and I appreciate the discussion.

      That’s an interesting point about your parents and the nature of e-invites. I guess its a generational thing that we see e-invites as a more personal thing then maybe our parents do when they’re potentially expecting a card or phone call. I’ve started making a point of responding directly to the host and giving a definite response as opposed to clicking maybe and waiting for a better opportunity to come up. Its interesting how social media can also inform you as to whether you were not invited to an event you thought you might have been. Its one of the many reasons I don’t use story functions on social media too often, as to avoid any people potentially being upset about something happening without them.

      To your other point, I too have had many benefits of social media and technology in connecting to people around the globe. Having lived overseas for most of my adult life, it has helped me maintain friendships from far and wide. However, over the last year or so my attitude has changed and I have tried to move these relationships off social media and on to phone calls and video chat. I found that connecting to these people on social media, particularly via text-communication, was having a negative effect on me and was causing me to miss these people more as the conversations were stagnant due to time-zone and other issues. I made a point of trying to spend more time calling these people and catching up properly. This has made these relationships much easier to maintain and feel more real while actually taking up less time as it makes these conversations flow. Neustaedter & Greenberg (2011 p.9) make an interesting point about long-distance relationships and the importance of video chat in the continuation of these relationships, which I have had some experience in. I have found the addition of non-verbal cues from this technology to be vitally important in maintaining relationships with friends from overseas.

      I’m not sure what changes you could make to current social media platforms but I think there’s an opportunity for a new platform to come in and focus on that. How it would work…I’m not quite sure, but I think there could be a requirement for official verification of profiles and integration of some more personal elements such as inclusion of users music and other streaming services. These are just some off-the-top ideas, but being able to see what your friends are listening to and watching could create a stronger sense of community in these platforms. I know I’d be a lot more specific about who I let see my Spotify playlists and what I am currently streaming making a more personal feel to that platform.

      I think that people first need to spend less time on social media and remember what is important to an offline relationship again so that when they re-enter these platforms, they aren’t worrying about unimportant things these platforms can often make seem key.

      Thanks again for your comment and hope I have answered your questions!



      1. Hi Declan,
        I won’t consider e-invites as a generational thing because I would also prefer and expect a physical card or phone call as you mentioned, plus I have never received or sent an e-invite – unless you consider Facebook events e-invites. I agree that responding directly to the host is the better than clicking maybe and I think it’s a passive response to avoid declining an invitation outright. To build strong relationships you need to show effort and appreciation, even if you don’t want to attend an event you’ve been invited to – but I think that’s just common courtesy.
        You bring up a notable point about moving relationships off social media, have you found that people are receptive to that change? Personally, I try my best to avoid text-communication particularly on Facebook and really only use it as a prompt for other forms of communication. Although, I think my reluctance is largely based on my knowledge and distaste for the platform in general.
        I really like your idea about integrating user’s music and streaming services as it would enable people to connect offline and online activities, and I agree that it would definitely create a stronger sense of community. I often think that social networking is sometimes too caught up with superficial qualities rather than focusing on developing and expanding our offline relationships. Say a new platform emerged that offered those more personal features, would you be interested and how do you think the general public would respond?

        1. Hi Karla,

          I was sort of speaking about Facebook events as e-invites when referring to that, as I haven’t had much experience with much else in that area. I like your point about common courtesy, as there doesn’t seem to be much of that these days particularly in thre Facebook event space. I personally would attach that to a younger audience as I usually invite people out of my age bracket outside of a Facebook event to make sure it is scene.

          Receptiveness to the change you refer to depends on who I’m talking to as I find it a mixed bag. I agree that I’d rather use text-communication to facilitate more personal communication, althought for some people thats just how they operate. I find myself mirroring others communication habits but I avoid engaging with people who continually facilitate text conversations. Very much agree about distaste towards FB, I’d have deleted it if I didn’t have my business page to run.

          I find social media almost exclusively superficial, which is why I post so little and have started to limit my usage. However, I would be more receptive to a platform which tried to bring some personability back to the social media space. I think your idea for a new platform would be met with intrigue, particularly with those who’ve developed a bit of disdain towards social media. Although over time I believe it would fall in line with many of the others and follow the same path as those platforms before it and become commercialised. The influences will figure it out and win in the end!

          Thanks again for the discussion.


          1. Hey Declan,
            Sorry for the confusion about e-invites, that’s my fault for not fully explaining. With the example I gave about my parents, the e-invite was in the form of a digital copy of a paper invitation sent via FB Messenger. It was a strange occurrence, and I can’t help but think it was meant to save printing and postage costs, but I think the situation cost more in terms of personal relations.
            You raise a solid point and I find the fact that we do tend to mirror communication habits very intriguing. I’m interested to know from your experience if you think Facebook is people’s preferred method of communication or is it just their first-line of contact? For instance, I know many people have their mobile number and/or email listed in their profile on Facebook but mainly rely on Messenger to connect.
            I identify with your feelings towards the social media space, and I wonder if a possible solution would be an overhaul or rebranding of social media. You mention that a new platform would ultimately follow the same path as existing platforms and become commercialised, but what about a non-profit, user-generated social platform?

  4. Hey Declan,

    Your paper was an interesting read and raises some important questions about social media and relationships. I tend to agree that it really does seem like people are getting more and more dependent on their online interactions which is having a negative effect on their real-world relationships. I have also noticed that me and some of my friends have taken steps to limit our use of social media and are making efforts to establish more intimate connections offline. I wonder if you have noticed anything similar in your circle? Do you think people are starting to become aware of the negative impacts of being so dependent on digital interaction or do you think the problem is just getting worse?

    Something that attracted me to your paper was also how it related to mine. In my paper I discuss how the incel (involuntary celibate) community is radicalising its members with misogynistic ideologies. I think the members of the incel community are perfect examples of people who have become completely dependent on their online interactions as they tend to reject the cultural norms of the real-world. The more that users become entrenched in the community, the more they tend to reject their real-world relationships and culture. I’d be keen to hear your thoughts on my essay, here’s the link:


    1. Hi Cameron,

      Thanks for the comment, looking forward to reading your paper as its a completely new area for me.

      I’ve definitely seen a similarity between what you and your friends are doing in my own circles. I recently deleted my Instagram and Snapchat for a while to further the process of disconnecting online and other friends are starting to consider doing the same as I’ve reported satisfaction with the decision. I am a pretty social person normally but have seen a massive jump in my social plans since taking those steps. I think this paper and the conference in general has encouraged me to become less digitally dependent.

      To your second question, I think its a bit of a generational thing. I am in my mid-20s and have seen more people around my age adopt a less digital approach. My brother is nearly 30 and his age bracket seems to have a nice balance, although there are obviously outliers to each age group. However, watching some of the 17 to 21 year olds I work or play sport with, their digital dependence is pretty confronting. I discuss in my paper about digital natives (Miller, 2016 p.100) growing up without knowing any different to having social media and technology engulfed in their lives and I think I am seeing that happen in my own world. I would like to think they grow out of this, although I’m worried about it being at the expense of their mental health.

      I’m interested to read your paper, as from what you’ve said and the little research I just did, it seems as if this digitial community is furthering its members issues which will be an interesting comparison to my research.

      Thanks again,

      1. Hey Declan,

        I’m around the same age group and I’ve also experimented with deleting social media accounts in the past and found it really beneficial. I think social media can be useful in keeping people connected but the problem comes when people become overly dependant on these digital interactions. I think in-person socialising is something that we haven’t been able to replicate completely and I don’t think we ever will. What do you think? Do you think that social media will ever get to the stage that it is a perfect replacement for in-person socialising or do you feel like there is something intrinsically valuable about face-to-face interactions that can’t be replicated?

        I’m also in the same boat as you with concern about the younger generation or “digital natives” and how dependant they seem on the technology. I hope they find a way to manage their use although sometimes it looks like they’re in too deep, but I guess only time will tell.


        1. Hi Cameron,

          I don’t think anything will replace face-to-face interactions and the value that has for people’s well-being. Who knows how far technology will go? Maybe face-to-face interactions can be facilitated by technology despite distance, but that amount of technological advancement scares me. I hope the digital era teaches us to value the simple things and go back to having technology being an aid as opposed to it being everything. However, I’m not confident.


          1. Well said Declan, I completely agree.

            Hopefully we take notice of the damage that these new technologies can cause and learn to live more symbiotically with them.

            Good chat.

  5. Hi Declan – Your paper is an interesting read! I wonder what your thoughts are on people who use social media to form relationships who suffer from health issues, disabilities or who live in remote places that prevent them from socialising with friends “IRL”? I believe that in some cases these online relationships are key to their mental health and form a central part of their social lives. I also think that with all things it depends on the user… Yes some people use things like dating apps and social media to present themselves in an unreal way or with nefarious goals but I do believe that there are others out there that use it as a complementary resource to their socialising and relationships and it is nothing but a positive and beneficial experience.

    1. Hi Katherine,

      Thank you for your comment, I appreciate the discussion.

      I do believe there is certain cases where social media can play a role in helping people socialise and come together. That’s an interesting point about those with disabilities, I didn’t come across that in my research. My focus is more on the general society ingraining these practices into our everyday lives. My argument is to try and shift a little bit of thinking in regards to these practices and going back to some of the things that were important pre-digital era. I’m sure this would make it easier to highlight a lot of the good things that social media is bringing to the table if we didn’t rely on it so heavily.

      With dating apps, my issue is to your point. There are people out there who want to use them for the right reasons but have to deal with people misrepresenting their identity and just on there for an ego-boost. I believe social media has created this ego-boost, ‘look at me’ culture which is negatively affecting how they operate. Until we move away from this idea, I believe social media will continue to have negative consequences. Again, the general population is my discussion but I appreciate you giving me something else to think on.


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