Can relationships that are built through social networks have the same connection as physical relationships?
Since the emergence of Myspace in 2003, social networks have grown rapidly, allowing individuals to network and socialize with others from various locations. Websites like LinkedIn, Myspace, and Facebook allow its users to network, chat, and build relationships with old and new friends, but are these cyber relationships equivalent to relationships built in person?
From body language to comprehending ones delivery of speech, we are very limited to doing certain things in cyberspace that are often important when building friendships and intimate relationships. Programs such as ooVoo, Skype, iChat, or FaceTime provide us with that visual appearance of a person, but it is still quite difficult to get a full representation of someone’s demeanor and body language through these programs.
Based on my own experience, building a relationship through social networks is very different compared to building one in person. When talking to someone online they are able to portray themselves to be anything that they want to be, so one is only getting the representation of a person that they are allowed to see. While in a relationship that is built in person, it is very hard for one to portray their self to be someone different because unless they are a very good actor/actress, their speech and body language will give their true identity away.
"In the beginning of an intimate relationship, body language is a primary means of communication. Two people who don’t know each other very well will use non-verbal cues to express their thoughts when words seem too direct or uncomfortable. It is a relatively safe way to get the point across to each other with less risk of outright rejection or embarrassment...In general, body language in intimate relationships serves a vital purpose. It communicates specific types of information when a relationship is relatively young as well as when it is more established. It can bring a couple together, push a couple apart, or simply augment the verbal communication habits of the two people."
With that being said, the interaction that one has with others in cyberspace does not fulfill the same communication needs as face-to-face relationships. One can have an in-depth conversation with someone through Facebook or Skype, but it is difficult to read ones responses through their gestures and body language, while during an in physical connection all of those things can be achieved. In an article written by Alex Lickerman, M.D. in Happiness in this World, he said it best, "we write things like "LOL" and "LMAO" to describe our laughter, but they're no real substitute for hearing people laugh, which has real power to lift our spirits when we're feeling low." Although we can do many things online, as human beings that physical interaction is still necessary, because it allows us to better feed off of each other’s energies.
Below author and leadership expert Simon Sinek shares why human, physical interaction creates deeper, more meaningful relationships than Internet communication.