Social networks can damage real-life relationships



Posted on November 26, 2009 at 6:38 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Are you sick of sharing on social networking sites?

From boring status updates and bragging to comment overload and quirky quizzes, some users are growing downright tired of it - literally.

Steve Boyle can't always take time to pick up the phone. Social networks help him stay connected.

"It's a class reunion every day if you want it to be," he said.

But sometimes when Steve logs on to sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, he 's bombarded with status updates.

"After a while it just gets really annoying," he added.

Steve isn't alone! A growing number of people are dealing with "social network fatigue."

Dr. Patricia Wallace is the author of "The Psychology of the Internet." She says part of the problem is all the mundane messages.

"When you say I had pancakes for breakfast and I'm leaving the house now, you really can't see the other person yawning," she said.

Dr. Jan Yager says the trouble is social networks have expanded our group of "casual" friends to include more than 250 people.

"You could get fatigued if those 250 casual friends are sharing information you don't really care about, but most people do care about the status updates of that small circle of friends," said Yager.

Some are boring, others are bragging.

"I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't have friends that brag or gloat about what they're doing, or their job. It gets tedious," said Steve.

If we aren't careful though, these online interactions can damage our real-life relationships. So before you post…

"Run it by a focus group of one, just yourself. Reread what you're about to post and imagine yourself to be one of the readers," said Wallace.

If a friend's behavior bothers you, be careful how you express your frustration.

"Think about how important the friendship is to you and really do it in a kind and caring, and if possible, humorous way," said Yager.

Finally, don't forget to pick up the phone occasionally. Or better yet, make time to see your friends in person.

You can also use the "hide" button on Facebook to stop receiving certain status updates or press "tweet-snooze" on Twitter. But our experts warn, if a friend finds out your secret, this could damage your relationship permanently.