Imagine this: Two friends meet up for matching holiday spice flat whites. They sit down at a corner table anticipating an actual conversation. But then their phones start blurping and buzzing a siren song. And with just a swipe of their fingers they nosedive down the digital rabbit hole, eyes glued to their screens.
Maybe that's why more than 70% of Americans think technology is weakening our relationships, according to the results of our NBC News State of Kindness poll conducted online by Survey Monkey.
Among social media users, 68% of our 2,650 respondents felt relationships suffer from social media. That percentage jumped to 83% among folks who don’t use sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
But not everyone thinks we need a digital detox when it comes to relationships.
Slightly more than 30% of participants who use social media believe that technology can actually strengthen our connections to each other.
Not surprisingly, there is a bit of a generation gap.
About 35% of those 18-34 believe that technology strengthens relationships. These poll participants are also more likely to use social media.
But the older you get, the less likely you are to believe that social media enhances relationships, with slightly more than 20% of people ages 35-64 thinking tech helps our social connections. In the 65 and older crowd, 28% of participants think social media strengthens our bonds.
If you ever “unfriended” someone because they morphed into a cyber-meanie, you’re not alone. In fact, more than 60% of our participants using social media say they have blocked, hidden or put the ultimate kibosh of “unfriending” someone who morphed into meanness.
More than 60% of social media users and nearly 50% of non-users say tech can bring out the best and worst in folks just about equally, according to our survey results.
But some participants had stronger opinions.
More than 30% of social media aficionados in our poll say that social media brings out the worst in us, and 45% of non-users agree with them. Only 8% of social media users, and 5% of non-users, think social media outlets bring out the very best in us.
And cyber-bullying is a very important issue for 6 in 10 of our participants.
Women rank cyber-bullying higher than men, with 69% of our female participants saying it is a very important concern. Slightly less than 50% of men feel the same way.
But technology gives us a mighty tool with some relationships. It seems that if people get nasty online, we have no qualms about shutting them down.