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Friendships ruined by Facebook: Online rows spill into real life – survey

Friendships ruined by Facebook: Online rows spill into real life – survey
Rudeness and insults online can cause real-life friendships to rupture, according to a recent survey, with two in five users having reduced interactions with a person following a virtual quarrel.

The survey was carried out by US corporate training company VitalSmarts, which interviewed 2,698 people.

It has been revealed that hostile behavior online can ruin friendships, with 78 percent of participants reporting an escalation in rudeness on social networks.

One in five users drastically reduced contact with someone they knew in real life following an online row. Further, two in five people blocked, unsubscribed or ‘unfriended’ 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," VitalSmarts co-chair Joseph Grenny explained to Reuters on Wednesday. "What really is surprising is that so many people disapprove of this behavior but people are still doing it."

Workplace arguments are also often tracked back to conversations in chat forums in which workers spoke negatively about another colleague.

Participant Laura J. has seen the ripple effects of social media at work: A frustrated coworker posted a message about wanting to “handle coworkers like we did in the old days,” followed by descriptive and violent details, according to VitalSmarts’ press release on their survey. The atmosphere in the participant’s office has been tense ever since the post was made a year ago. Ultimately, employees unfriended their colleague and avoid her in the office “for fear she’ll come after [us].”

"People seem aware that these kinds of crucial conversations should not take place on social media yet there seems to be a compulsion to resolve emotions right now and via the convenience of these channels," Joseph Grenny pointed out.

He also indicated three rules that could improve conversations online: Avoiding monologues, replacing lazy and judgmental words, and cutting back on personal attacks, particularly when emotions were high.

About 67 percent of US adults currently use social networks, with Facebook being the most popular, while over 50 percent of British users have a Facebook account. In Russia, the latest figures show that around 6.5 million people use Facebook, and that number is growing quite steadily.