Negative Impact of the Internet

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Does the internet negatively impact oneself and their interpersonal relationship with others?

The Internet is the infrastructure connecting the world in real time; in a way, making the world smaller and more accessible. Using the internet is a part of a person’s daily routine, however, its continued use has the potential to obstruct real-world factors—in psychological and social domains. Continuous use of the internet promotes negative emotions like loneliness, negligence, jealousy, and insecurity. These negative emotions promoted by the internet can weaken and potentially break a relationship.

Scholars began to explore the social effect of the internet when offices allowed its employees to work from home via their computers enabled with the internet. Davis (1996) suggests that with the ability to work from home, new and young employees miss the chance of standard peer learning and general teamwork skills such as tolerance and cooperation. Physical presence in office culture promotes teambuilding skills which get compromised with work-from-home culture empowered by the internet. The severity of the negative social impact of the internet came to light when it was associated with the hike in suicide rates. Won et al. (2013) propose that the use of social media affects the mood of an individual or some subgroups of a population and that social media might contribute to the suicide pattern of the society.

Social Networking Sites (SNSs) or social media are websites where users can make public accounts and use it for interacting with other users on the same website on the internet. Some examples of SNSs are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. Online stalking, which is a negative feature of SNS, can be defined by the repeated use of internet and social media to spy or harass a person or a group through their activity on their social media profile. Selfie, as referred to in the essay, is a self-photograph. An echo chamber is a figurative situation where beliefs are reinforced by repetition. SNS provides a platform for likeminded subgroups of the population from around the world to interact and people conform to their beliefs.

In the context of the internet and relationship, Clayton et al. (2011) suggest that Facebook creates conflicts between couples in less than 3 years of a relationship that can affect them negatively. Relationships are built stronger on trust and understanding; relationships less than 3 years are still immature and Facebook-related conflicts are detrimental to them. On that premise, the internet and SNS can be blamed for the increasing relationship tension that can contribute to break-ups or divorces between couples; thus, is an important topic to discuss. This essay will address the negative psychological and social impact the internet has on relationships; arguing that the internet and social media can cause rampant loneliness, jealousy and contribute to the eventual breakup of a couple.

Consistent internet use impedes social skills and isolates the user from making real-world associations that produce a negative impact on the user. With continuous use of SNSs, people tend to develop impulse to use SNSs; and with increasing use, a person gets isolated from the real-world which has a negative outcome as loneliness. Kim et al. (2009) state that though it seems individuals who lack social skills benefit from the internet, but the reality is that it negatively impacts them; they are unable to control their internet use and get farther secluded real-world and feel loneliness.

People with deficient social skills who use SNSs to express themselves prefer virtual interaction over interaction in-person, and this results in excessive attachment of the user to SNS. As posting photos or videos and sharing online posts do not require social skills from a person, such people feel more comfortable interacting on SNS. The comfort-zone provided by SNS becomes addictive for these people. However, virtual communication does not compensate for their lack of communicative powers of socially awkward people. The continuous internet use can lead excessive users to get isolated from the real-world and immersed in the virtual world. Psychosocially unhealthy individuals struggle to monitor their internet usage, get socially secluded, and feel left-out which signifies imbalance led by the internet.

Lack of attention from partner due to overuse of SNS may make a person feel unappreciated in a relationship and build emotional tension between the couple. Partners of excessive users feel neglected and devalued for their loved one gives more importance to SNS and online friends. Clayton et al. (2016) suggest emotional tension is built when the partner of an excessive social media user feels lack of care and loneliness due to their partner’s SNS overuse or for talking with the former partner; that can lead to future dispute or separation.

With negligence to real-life and insensitivity towards partner and relationship, a partner of an excessive user tends to feel that they are being ignored and are not valued and eventually might want to split. To excessive internet users, real-life might seem unimportant for the attention they might seek from their online posts. Therefore, they might not be attentive towards people who are physically present, as a result, their partners feel unacknowledged and undervalued. Emotional stress hence generated has the potential of raising serious conflicts and could lead to breaking up.

Excessive internet users involved with online friends can make their romantic partners feel jealous and create conflicts between them which can be harmful to a relationship. Partners of excessive internet users can feel jealousy when excessive users show more concern for their online friends than for them or their romantic relationship, which can lead to relationship disputes. Elphinston et al. (2011) suggest that the tendency for Facebook to impose on people’s lives added with an unlimited number of accessible third-party threats increases the tendency of jealousy and spying behaviour, resulting in displeasing romantic relationship.

Knowing that one’s partner not only reserves less time and attention for them or their relationship, but also focuses on interacting with other people on the internet raises envy within the partner for online friends. When an excessive internet user chooses the opportunity of interacting with an unlimited number of people over attending their partner, his or her partner displays a natural reaction of jealousy. Jealousy can affect the emotional compatibility between the couple and raise disputes in the relationship.

Partner’s association with his or her former partner may obstruct in forming a healthy bond between the current couple; SNS actively enable such communications, as a result, the present relationship gets affected. When partners use SNS for communicating with their former partners, it develops jealousy and insecurity within their current partners. Clayton et al. (2013) propose that Facebook-related conflicts like directly neglecting partners by communication with past partners increase emotional dissatisfaction resulting in relationship fight or separation, especially for partners for less than 3 years.

Communicating with the recent former partner not only reflects that the person is still emotionally attached to them, but also that they are not fully devoted or satisfied with their existing relationship. The partners of such users might feel being compared with their partner’s former loved one, which can contribute to their insecurity and make them feel neglected and jealous. As suggested by Clayton et al. (2013), out of this emotional stress, a person might stalk their partner online to monitor their online activity associated with their former partner. This increases the chance of relationship fights by increasing the emotional tension between the existent couple, especially when the relationship is immature. Associating with past partners or spouse on SNS hence hinders the growth of current relationship by increasing feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and suspicion from online stalking. This could potentially lead to break-up or divorce, particularly new couples.

In the context of hindering social skills at the cost of continuous usage can be counterclaimed. It is not necessary that all habitual internet users are deficient in social skills and struggle while interacting in-person. McCown et al. (2004) suggest that individual who actively communicates through the Internet are socially skilled—have rhetorical expertise, exhibit empathy for other, and appreciate close and sincere relationship; they even tend to meet their friends made online. Preference of virtual interaction on the internet does not signify that the user is socially awkward. It is possible that the user is not comfortable with the society they live in for not many people can reciprocate with them. This especially true for the LGBTQ community. In this case, the internet provides a platform for those people where they form echo chambers, which respects their thoughts and emotions and communicate freely. The Internet does not cater to social inadequacy, it provides a communication tool to connect with like-minded people.

The counterclaim does not hold true for all internet users. Based on the rich-gets-richer model, Kim et al. (2009) argue that people who are already socially deficient get affected by repetitive internet usage and develop further isolation from society. In such cases, the internet is responsible for their isolation. Given the comfort zone of the internet, these users prefer virtual interactions over in-person interactions anytime. It should be noted that these people still reside in the real-world and must encounter people in-person at some point. They should exercise on their social skills by interacting physically, rather than cocooning themselves in the virtual world created by the internet.

A counterclaim can be made that long-distance relationships enabled by the internet are successful; and, that the internet promotes relationship building. The internet encourages relationship betterment in long-distance couples by enabling the partners to stay in touch regardless of the geographical barrier. The paper by Jiang & Hancock (2013) proposes that long distance relationships are of equal or more reliance and fulfilling compared to geographically close complements on the premise that partners develop more adaptive revelations and have more ideal relationship perceptions. In long distance relationships, people are mutually understanding, more thoughtful of the information they share with each other and are adaptive of their partner’s situation. This association built between the couples reflects the positivity brought by the internet with respect to relationships.

Though the internet gives the communicational medium to long-distance couples, however, it also gives both the partners equal chance of romantic interaction with other unlimited people. This opportunity can lead to emotional or physical cheating which is a threat to the relationship. As mentioned by Elphinston et al. (2011), Facebook and other SNS offer an infinite number of accessible third-party threats which increase the tendency of jealousy, suspicion, and distrust. The increase in interactions with multiple people increases the chances of emotional and physical betrayal and eventually lead to relationship dissolution. Though in long distance relationship people have a strong mutual understanding the users are aware that the same SNS enables their partners to communicate with other people too. And since, one cannot know when or whom their partners meet in the real world, they might resort to online stalking that is potentially addictive and eventually detrimental for the relationship. Clayton et al. (2013) propose online stalking can lead to further complication in a relationship and increases the possibility of a breakup. The insecurity developed, or the online stalking enabled by the internet does not contribute to a healthy relationship.

Although SNS coupled with the internet is widely used as a communication tool, yet it hinders real-life social abilities and isolates individuals from society. It creates jealousy, depression and obsessive behaviour traits which are detrimental to a relationship. It is particularly harmful to new relationships (i.e. less than 3 years) and for younger generations who are learning to make social interactions. Trust and sense of security are compromised at the cost of virtual connectivity. These issues have the potential to generate tension between couples and pose a threat to the relationship, thus increasing the chances of breakup and divorce rates. It is crucial to observe the negative impact of the internet as it is now a part of our daily routine and it cannot be given a clean chit for the immense access and information it provides us with.

Having mentioned that, it is important that we monitor our SNS and overall internet usage. Besides that, we should check and take control of our reactive emotions followed by our behaviour. Individuals should analyze the issue and discuss with their partners or consult with a couple’s therapist if required. It is true that the internet is a boon for couples in long distance relationships, as it provides means to communicate so fast and so effective which no other communication tool can beat. It provides social assistance with likeminded people when people in the neighbourhood are not. However, it is important to analyze what we are putting at stake for that. It crucial to monitor internet usage and not simply get overwhelmed by it. Therefore, the connectivity supremacy of the internet cannot justify the societal interruption it creates.


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  2. Davis, R. (1996). Internet conference on telecommuting. Career Development International Vol. 1 (5). 29-37. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/psycinfo/docview/622188383/2F37B73EC094493BPQ/1?accountid=15182
  3. Elphinston, R.A. & Noller P. (2011) Time to face it! Facebook intrusion and the implications for romantic jealousy and relationship satisfaction. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and social networking, 14(11). https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2010.0318
  4. Jiang, L. & Hancock, J. (2013). Absence makes the communication grow fonder: Geographic separation, interpersonal media, and intimacy in dating relationships. Journal of Communication, 63. 556-577. doi: 10.1111/jcom.12029
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  7. Won, H., Myung, W., Song, G., Lee, W., Kim, W., Carroll, B. & Kim, D. (2013). Predicting national suicide numbers with social media data. PLoS ONE, 8(4). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061809

Cite this paper

Negative Impact of the Internet. (2020, Dec 09). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/negative-impact-of-the-internet/

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