Previously, the old media, such as TV, radio and newspaper, brought people together and established a relationship between families and friends. While with popularization of Internet and digital products, human begins to enter a digital age and social media as new media have become an indispensable part for human’s life and made a great difference in social relationship. Although the development of internet started late in a number of countries like China, according to the statistics of China Internet Network Information Centre, there has been 618 million netizens in China and Internet penetration has risen to 45.8% by December 2013. Nowadays, an increasing number of people use social media to share news and lives with their friends and families. David Bell (2001) regards cyberspace as an assemblage of hardware and software, images and ideas. New ideas, connections, experiences are broadcasted by using the digital communication technologies, especially these social network sites. Whereas, social media are far more than those network sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, it is “a connected and complex ecosystem founded on relationships, passions and a desire to be connected” (Stephen 2012a).
Social media makes communication more continence in a vaster range and brings a possibility to further improve interpersonal relationship. Public can ignore the time, space, status and genders in cyberspace and they are the creator of contents rather than the passive side. Digital media is hoped to establish a virtual community by social networking sites such as Myspace and twitter. Castells states that networks have become the basic units of society (2009a). However, when social media create new changes in the way to communicate, it is also challenging the traditional views and relationship of people. People believe they can build a hard and reliable relationship by the help of old media, and compared with a face-to-face communication, more lies and untrue information can be fabricated in the network world. The first part of this essay illustrates the forms of social media , subsequently describes the characters of social network sites, and the third part of it analyses both the positive and negative impacts of social media on social relationship, particularly the interpersonal relationship and finally draw a conclusion.
1. Forms of social media
Social media are defined as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content" (Kaplan and Haenlein 2010a). In 1999, Darcy Dinucci created the term “Web 2.0” and Tim O'Reilly popularize this concept at the O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Web 2.0 suggests promoting new world web sites which allow users to interact and communicate with each other in a virtual community and it includes social networking sites such as Facebook, blogs and YouTube (O'Reilly...