Why Facebook can be toxic for relationships


I have noticed that many people are involved in quarrels on Facebook, in the way they would have never quarreled during any tete-a-tete conversation.

Quarrels caused by trifles, by words said hastily, by small misunderstandings. Quarrels caused by a routine exchange of words and by an outburst of emotions which, once written, exercise their toxic effect. Indeed, Facebook can be toxic for relationships.

It’s because, on Facebook, we do not notice the nuances, we do not see the waggish expression of the eyes of the person we talk with, we do not hear the melody of his voice. Our own warm intonation of the voice is not being heard, the mimic and the peaceful gestures are not being seen.

In other words, not seeing each other, we can’t empathize. The mirror neurons are not being activated; those neurons that, in normal conditions, help us calibrate our emotional status with that of the opposite person.

Consequently, a written dialogue can easily transform itself into an incomplete and altered dialogue. It’s as if it would be reflected through a crooked mirror. We are all subjects to these risks.

On Facebook, we might misinterpret the words of the interlocutor, to ascribe negative meaning to his intentions; we get easily pique on the comments and replies which concern us. And, in our turn, we get others piqued as easily.

The irony of the others we take as an offence, their statements we take as a defiance which defies our own opinions; the unconcerned hint we take as a personal attack. The dispute turns into a venomous duel, the differences in opinions turn into hostility. From here, only a small step is left for the “friends” to spoil a once-vigorous friendship.

It’s easier to express your anger from behind the monitor. And it’s easier to offend.

Maybe serious and sensible things shouldn’t be discussed on Facebook. And, maybe, many couples should avoid disputes on social networks, because they risk offending their partner and aggravating the situation. More so if dislike button would appears.

In the on-line communication, the empathy sometimes succumbs, just like the tolerance does.
If two people don’t see eye to eye, they’ll quarrel with each other.

© Dorian Furtună, ethologist

Photo: from Flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/rishibando/4660452869