IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON COUPLES INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION RELATIONSHIP
Background of the Study
Traditionally, social media can be traced back to the time before the creation of the
Internet. In the 1960s, Yale Psychologist, Stanley Milgram, began tracking chains of
acquaintance. He found that every American was linked to every other American by
a chain of around six mutual acquaintances which was later termed as the six degrees
According to Ellison, Nicole (2007) by 1997, sixdegrees.com, an early form of social
media, was launched. It allowed users to create profiles, list their friends and see
their friends’ friend lists. It was named after the six degrees of separation concept
and allowed users to list friends, family members and acquaintances within the site.
In the early 2000s, MySpace, Facebook and WhatsApp were launched. Soon, people
from around the world became involved with online social networks. Today’s social
media have added many features. They include journal entries, photo albums, video
and music sharing.
In 2006, a site called Twitter was launched. It limited users to 140-character
“tweets.” This is far less information than is found on other sites. But it can more
easily be sent to mobile devices. Each member chooses which other members of
Twitter they want to “follow.” When someone sends out a tweet, everyone who has
chosen to follow that member gets the message.
Two recent technological advances have increased the popularity of social media.
The first consists of sophisticated, behind-the-scenes programming. It continually
updates and syncs member home pages with changes made on the pages of everyone
in their network.
The second change is the increased availability of broadband Internet connections.
Not so long ago, in the late 1990s, almost all U.S. users were connecting to the
Internet by a dial-up phone line. This technology provided download speeds of
between 14 kilobytes of data per second (KBPS) and 56 KBPS. That was fast enough
for e-mail and other basic services. But it could not handle the large video, photo,
and other media files used in social networking today. By early 2009 some 59
percent of US households were using broadband. Broadband speeds can reach one
megabyte (1,024 kilobytes) per second (MBPS) and beyond. As a result, users can
now easily handle large media files (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010).
According to LaSalle (2004) today’s systems of communication allow people to
interact with each other in settings that are not face-to-face. The use of telephones
and computers has paved the way for the most recent addition to communication –
social media. Meanwhile, prior to today’s technology, people developed
relationships face-to-face. Face-to-face interaction allows a person to respond in
conversation by utilizing verbal and non-verbal clues they receive during the
Scholars suggest that social media can also be used to express romantic relationships.
The most apparent illustration of romantic relationships can be found through the
profile picture (Bowe, 2010; Mansson & Myers, 2011; Papp, Danielewicz, &
Cayemberg, 2012; Utz & Beukeboom, 2011). In general, this means couples tend to
display their relationships by depicting themselves and their partner in their default
profile photo, or photo that is displayed on their main profile page.
Nowadays relationships have branched into online environments, the components of
love are dealing with new influences on the way they affect the couple. Papp,
Danielewicz, and Cayemberg (2012) conclude that the use of Facebook has altered
the way people interact and develop relationships. Courting a partner in an offline
environment is the act of reaching out to an individual to express interest in getting to
know them. Traditionally, relationships had to deal with components of love, trust,
commitment, honesty, passion, and satisfaction. Now relationships have to deal with
much more (Marshall, 2012).
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