Friendships cut short on social media as people get ruder: survey

Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:36pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

LONDON (Reuters) - Rudeness and throwing insults are cutting online friendships short with a survey on Wednesday showing people are getting ruder on social media and two in five users have ended contact after a virtual altercation.

As social media usage surges, the survey found so has incivility with 78 percent of 2,698 people reporting an increase in rudeness online with people having no qualms about being less polite virtually than in person.

One in five people have reduced their face-to-face contact with someone they know in real life after an online run-in.

Joseph Grenny, co-chairman of corporate training firm VitalSmarts that conducted the survey, said online rows now often spill into real life. The survey found two in five people blocking, unsubscribing or "unfriending" someone over a virtual argument.

"The world has changed and a significant proportion of relationships happen online but manners haven't caught up with technology," Grenny told Reuters on the release of the online survey conducted over three weeks in February.

"What really is surprising is that so many people disapprove of this behavior but people are still doing it. Why would you name call online but never to that person's face?"

Figures from the Pew Research Center show that 67 percent of online adults in the United States now use social networking sites with Facebook the most popular while the latest figures show over half of the British population has Facebook accounts.

The survey follows a spate of highly publicized run-ins between people who came to virtual blows online.   Continued...

In this photo illustration, a Facebook logo on a computer screen is seen through glasses held by a woman in Bern May 19, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Hodel