How social media is affecting personal relationships

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by YVONNE NAVA / KVUE News

kvue.com

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 11:35 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 20 at 2:54 PM

AUSTIN -- From tweeting on our smartphones to updating our status on our laptops, we are constantly plugged in. But now, social media and the need to stay connected are affecting our personal relationships.

Texting, typing, tweeting. Whatever happened to actually talking? It has become somewhat of a lost art thanks to the constantly-evolving wave of social media that's left people buried in technology.

"Whether it be their laptop, or their Facebook or the iPhone, they are usually just kind of minding themselves more than they are interacting with each other," said Matthew Paterson.

"People just always want to know what other people are doing. You want to know what your friends  are doing. There have been times when I'm out on a dinner date with my boyfriend, and he's looked at his phone, and I'm like 'Put your phone away. Pay attention to me,' and I've been guilty of doing the same thing," said Whitney Freeman.

Like so many of us, Freeman admits to being distracted by social media.

"Facebook, Twitter, Instagram is my new favorite," Freeman said.

But when does it all become too much? According to AllTwitter, which monitors all social media, 100,000 tweets are sent out every minute, nearly three quarters of a million pieces of content are shared on Facebook, and more than 3,500 photos are posted on Instagram.

Dr. Claire Miner is a couples therapist who sees the strain social media can have on relationships.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says Facebook is a major culprit in breaking up couples, citing it for one in five divorces in the U.S. 

Brad Bogus, president of Speak Social, a social media marketing company in Austin, says cheaters are going to cheat with or without Facebook.

"To say that Facebook is a reason for divorce is like saying 20 years ago the phone is a reason for divorce because people would use the phone to contact people and meet up, and you know if they were going to have an affair they'd have an affair," Bogus said.

"Facebook isn't the reason; it's the people who are choosing to step outside of their commitments that's the problem," he added.
 
Local attorneys are using social media more and more to obtain evidence in divorce and custody cases. They say its truly amazing how open people are about their private information, especially when the best interests of their children is at stake.

The truth is, whether it's Facebook, email or just a simple phone call, life will always be full of distractions, but there are some things you can do to find a balance.

Dr. Miner says couples can engage in regular activities called rituals of connection.

"A hello kiss, or a hello hug, family dinner time is a ritual of connection," Dr. Miner said. "Also engaging in some sort of stress-reducing conversation at the end of the day."

"We are putting deposits in the emotional bank account. John Gottman's research found that we need more positivity than negativity in a relationship to keep it happy over the long term. In fact, he found it's a 20:1 ratio of positivity to negativity," Dr. Miner said.
 
That's something Whitney Freeman is working on, just like the rest of us.

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