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SPAM (Sirgy, Lee, Bae 216). such as depression are Of these five costs, the ones that more likely to develop pertain most to the question posed in the introducproblematic and detritory paragraph include: not an effective substitute mental Internet hab for face-to-face communication and miscommuniits (Junghyun, LaRose, cation. Communication via the Internet is not an and Wei 451). adequate substitute for face-to-face communication Both hypoth for various reasons, but primarily because it does esis are correct in their not allow individuals an opportunity to interpret respective research, however, Internet users who do not each other’s non-verbal forms of communication, suffer from predetermined psychological dysfuncwhich may alter a receiver’s perception of the mestions must develop an awareness regarding how senger’s meaning. technologically engineered medium influences their When individuals are in the physical presintended message, its meaning and how it is perence of one another, they are constantly giving and ceived in order to comprehend how their relationinterpreting non-verbal signals regarding attitudes, ships are affected by such communication. This idea feelings, and personality (Knapp and Hall 2). Howgoes beyond examining ever, Internet users cannot inthe aesthetic surface and terpret each other’s non-verbal visual rhetoric of designals, which allows miscomAlthough the Internet vices and virtual, social munications to occur more increases the range in which users communities such as a frequently than they do when may communicate, it diminishes a smartphone’s screen or individuals communicate facenumber of characters to-face. Although the Internet sender’s ability to receive feedback, the Twitter allows a user to increases the range in which consequently turning active send in a post. Yes, a user users may communicate, it dialogue into a mere monologue. must develop a consciousdiminishes a sender’s ability to ness of these limitations, receive feedback, consequently but one must also think turning active dialogue into a more in-depth about how mere monologue (Boulding technical mediums of communication actually con272). trol a message’s content and perception. Taking into consideration the benefits as well In conclusion, the Internet is an almost comas the costs of communication via the Internet and pletely symbolic medium, meaning that is separated advancements in technology, one is better able to in space and time; it is a world constructed beyond assess how personal relationships and wellbeing are an individual’s immediate experiences. Given its affected. It is important to take into account that this symbolic nature, Internet communication is not conundrum has been studied since the Internet first likely to succeed or replace face-to-face communicabecame a social phenomenon; Robert Kraut adtion. The Internet merely creates a virtual reality of dressed this ongoing issue as the Internet Paradox, meaning that has an indirect force upon our actual arguing that “…by using the Internet, people are day-to-day lives and relationships (Teske 687). It is substituting poorer quality relationships for betthrough our everyday interactions with others that ter relationships, that is, substituting weak ties for we build and maintain strong relationships. No virstrong ones” (Patterson, Michael, and Robert Kraut tual reality can replace actual reality, and no exten1029). However, other researchers claim that the sion of man can replace man. If one attempts to live relationship between Internet use and psychologitheir life through the Internet they will ultimately cal wellbeing may be bidirectional, meaning that discover the loneliness of isolation. individuals who possess psychological dysfunctions Virtual Relationships 22


n today’s technologically advanced society, individuals have the freedom to communicate like never before. With its invention and exponential growth, the Internet serves as not only an “information superhighway,” but as a communication link, connecting anyone and everyone who has access to WIFI and a computer. The Internet has shrunken what was once considered a big world into a small, interconnected network. With such convenient accessibility, individuals from all over the planet can connect and build relationships in an unprecedented way. However, this begs the question,“What type of


relationships are individuals building via the Internet and other technologies?” This new interconnected electronic web of devices may be actually creating a greater sense of isolation rather than community. Researchers have acknowledged that the Internet does indeed influence an individual’s quality of life, specifically in consumer, work, leisure, and social aspects. Studies show that individuals typically perceive how the Internet impacts their lives based on the direct function of its balance of costs and benefits that it involves (Sirgy, Lee, Bae 206-207). By studying the Internet from a social perspective, its impact is significant and seemingly unavoidable in today’s fast-paced society. The Internet provides space for virtual communities to conveniently and inexpensively meet, share ideas, and flourish (Sirgy, Lee, Bae 216). Convenience serves as a vital component of the Internet’s appeal, which is quickly growing due to the expansion of technological devices such as smart phones, iPads, iPods, and Kindles, as well as the development of free social websites like Facebook and Twitter. In a study conducted in 2005 at a University in the U.S. as well as one in Korea, researchers were able to identify five costs, or negative consequences, related to Internet use in social life. These costs include: intrusion of privacy, not a good substitute for face-to-face communications, miscommunication, higher expectations in relation to communications, and

Virtual Relationships  

This short academic essay examines how technology affects relationships.

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