Social Media’s Augmentation Of Social Development Engl 1101 Essay

1534 words - 7 pages

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social media platforms connect billions of people from all over the world. For the most part, they serve to publish a highlight reel of a person’s life. When Mary graduates from college, she will surely post pictures of the momentous occasion for all of her friends and followers to see. Mary will be much less likely to post a picture of the mailbox she ran over on her way home from her graduation party. For most adults, social media may serve as a periodic distraction or a harmless form of entertainment because they have lived the majority of their lives without relying on social media to interact with friends and loved ones, but for adolescents and young adults still developing social skills, the effect that social media has may be more pernicious. The social development skills of adolescents and young adults is augmented by social media because it imitates aspects of friendship, allows for a virtual sense of belonging, and disallows tactile and in-person interaction.
Arguably, the cultivation of friendships is one of the key aspects of social development, and social media has forever augmented the concept of friendship by imitating the nature true friendship. Writing for The New Yorker, Maria Konnikova begins her article by briefly outlining the research of Robin Dunbar, which posits that, on average, the number of friendships that a person is able to have in their entire “social group” is around “a hundred and fifty,” and anything beyond this number “would be too complicated to handle at optimal processing levels (para. 1-2). This number includes 150 “casual friends,” whom a person would “invite to a party;” close friends—“people you’d invite to a group dinner”—is a subgroup of casual friends and includes 50 friends; of these casual friends, 15 are considered friends to whom “you can turn to for sympathy when you need it; finally, Dunbar argues that out of the 150 casual friends, a person has five “intimate friends,” whom are you “best friends” (Konnikova para. 3). Konnikova then points to evidence from sources such as hunter-gather societies to modern corporate hierarchies that validate this paradigm over time and in many instances (para. 4). She also makes the distinction that a person can have many more acquaintances in their life, but as far as friendship is concerned 150 is held as the “Dunbar number” of friendship (para. 3). Facebook calls everyone with whom a user is connected a “friend,” and sets the limit for friends to 5,000. Konnikova points toward research complete by Michigan State research Nicole Ellison, whom found that “the median number of Facebook friends” that “a random sample of undergraduates” had on Facebook was “three hundred,” though “they only counted an average of seventy-five as actual friends” (para. 6). This discrepancy in the number of people that a person can have as casual friends according to the Dunbar number, the number of Facebook friends a socially developing...

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