Social Networking and Social Consequences: How Facebook Affects Interpersonal Relationships


The Internet and social networking sites have changed the standard by which the millennial generation communicates, and it’s not for the better. (Courtesy of

Published: March 4, 2010

On Feb. 15, the New York Times published an article about a teenager from Florida who requested that her high school remove a disciplinary suspension from her student record: a suspension given for her actions on Facebook. Katherine Evans, the student, had created a group calling one of her teachers the worst teacher she had ever had, and the teacher responded, claiming that she was the victim of cyberbullying.

It is unclear who has the upper hand in the argument. Evans was speaking freely, yet her teacher makes a very valid point about the conduct of the student.

First of all, Evans’s actions and mode of frustration ventilation were questionable. People forget that every action has a response. Everything you say will have a reaction and it has its consequences. Yes, the beautiful U.S. Constitution gives people the right to free speech, but there is a level of just plain, social decency that needs to be followed.

On the other hand, this problem demonstrates the dichotomy of modern communication, mainly online communication, and its often overlooked private and public juxtaposition. For some, Facebook is the social Mecca and a savvy communication tool, while others hold it as a self-published public profile to be shined under corporate light. These two realms hardly ever agree.

Surely the 1950s, “Leave It To Beaver” conservative standard of interpersonal relationships has not evolved well, barely finding any congruency among our modern texting and e-mail-only age of communication. Over 60 years of youthful transgression have created a whole new look to the way we interact with each other, far removed from that of the earliest acceptable relationships developed out of the traditional nuclear family. With an increase in independence of youth, there has been a continuing disconnect between traditional communication and modern media.Youth take to trendy new ways of communication, while many adults are still content with simpler, more conservative interactions. Yet the youth still find that “the man” has 30 years on them.

Having a communication tool that is both public and private blurs the line of social norms and standards of accepted behavior. For some students who look to Facebook as a fun and organized social networking tool, their well constructed profile of favorite music, vulgar movie quotes and a photo gallery of 100-plus drunken extravaganzas may work well. When Facebook first started, this was acceptable, as the major audience of the site was college students.

However, over time, with increased Facebook popularity and more importance put on new media, adults have taken to the widely accepted social networking tool. Where you once found an elite social site for students, you now find basically everyone: parents, teachers and students alike, interacting online. I highly doubt this wave of new breed Facebookers would ever accept those pictures of you doing a keg stand while everyone shouts “fuck the police.”

What has been created is a social war between adults and youth. Youth take and support liberal free speech both on and off line, yet many parenting and teaching adults take a a more reserved look at what is processed in the online network. The biggest problem that continues to fuel this war is that adults and youth have given so much importance to Facebook.

For many years, the independence of youth has been hardly monitored, and parents always struggled to keep their kids in check. Adults now have a monitoring tool with Facebook. They are able to, as many people say, stalk their own children. So when you and your friends go out on Saturday night and post pictures, your parents know exactly what you did.

The way in which Facebook is equated with truth is so often excruciatingly painful. Couples are not couples anymore unless they are “Facebook official” and anything seen on Facebook, whether a joke or not, is taken seriously. There are many occasions where I’ve posted a funny movie quote on my sister’s wall and an adults has found it offensive (not knowing that it was, in fact, a joke). This is where “stalking” adults may be a trap to believing before truly seeing.

On the other hand, adults aren’t the only ones to blame. If anything, the younger people who use Facebook abuse it the most. From my experience, Facebook has become a wall. People will say things and then hide behind it as if their real identities don’t exist, forgetting that of course every profile has your name and other necessary identification, making this wall not at all fortified.

Facebook and other social networks have forced people to forget about the simplest and most effective means of communication. People forget that there are more constructive ways of dealing with your problems than a meager wall post or Facebook status. Our generation has become the most passive group of people, willing and supporting free speech, yet unwilling to accept any attack-backs.