Effect of Technology and Social Media on Conflict

Jasmeen Lorna Laurence
Sarvapriya Rajamanickam
Tan Khang Le
Wong Paik Yen
Chow Jen Ni
Joshua Low Wai Peng


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Interpersonal conflict occurs when an expressed struggle between two or more individuals who perceive incompatible goals, scare resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals. Interpersonal conflict may take place on love relationships, family relationships and friend relationships, also, in the workplace. Nowadays, social network will be one of the reasons that conflict arise especially Facebook.

When talking about Facebook, almost everyone around you would know what it is and they do have an account of it. There is no doubt that Facebook have such a convenience function of access to each other easily. People use Facebook to keep up their relationships with friends and others who study, work and live around them. Also, it is to share stories with the people in your life with what you really want them to know. Besides that, people like to post some stuff and always accompanying with the mind that how many likes and comments they would gain on the post in the end. This action represents the satisfaction of agreement that they want to own from others.

Through this ‘connect and share function’, there have the misuse of it too. People who misuse Facebook may turn the relationships into crisis between one and others. There is no doubt when the disagreement or dissatisfaction from others on what you have posted on Facebook will lead you to a psychological development; you will feel depressed, angry or frustrated. In order to reduce conflict with others, it depends on how you deal with it associated with what type of conflict style you are in. We have interviewed three people to discuss about the conflict that they have been experienced on Facebook and how they dealt with it.


Topical Themes

A topical theme is the pattern of conflicts that analyses the common topics each interviewee has. The first interviewee, Jarvis had a friendship conflict with one of his classmates. Jarvis uses his victim’s Facebook account for his own jokes; writing a status that is very hurtful about the other person when they forgot to log out. Examples are ‘I am so fat’, ‘OMG my face is so ugly’ and etc. This messages or statuses can be seen by all the victim’s friends and families. It might even lead to punishment or suspension by the victim’s parents if they thought their son or daughter said that. His friends were constantly commenting and teasing him. This bad behaviour leads the other party very angry and unhappy. This attitude involves being self-centred, not caring how others might feel. In his revenge, the victim did the same to Jarvis’s Facebook account writing mean stuff about Jarvis. Both parties fought about the conflict which leads to a bigger argument. However in the end, the conflict was sorted out by revealing the person who writes those statues in order to avoid any misunderstandings. Both parties understood how it feels to be embarrassed and never to repeat this behaviour again.

The second interviewee is a middle aged man named John. John experienced a conflict between his romantic partners. Almost every relationships struggle to overcome trust issues. For married couples, Facebook has become a barrier overcoming trust issues. When some husbands refuse to reveal their account password, their wife would suspect his husband doing unfaithful things behind her back. Those include cheating, dating and ‘romantic conversations’ with other women. This overthinking behaviour will lead to misunderstandings between husbands and wives, in conclusion having a bad impact on their relationships. However for some people, privacy is very important in maintaining relationships. Personal privacy strengthens both parties, results in a more happy and satisfied relationships. For John, it was only a misunderstanding between him and his wife, everything was sorted out and they lived happily.

The conflict that the third interviewee faced is similar to the first interviewee. Veronica was also embarrassed by a friend that posted a status using her account. Family members and friends believed the content of her status but it wasn’t true about her. After that, she sent her a private message asking her friend to delete it immediately. But her friends already saw everything, and that did not get her way. Before that her emotions were affected by how people tease and laughed at her, but after that she ignores all the comments and responses. Her friend was also very sorry on what she did; Veronica forgave her act and wish it would not happen again.

Escalation of conflict

Escalation of conflict is how a conflict develops, from small arguments that lead to bigger arguments. The escalation of conflict for interviewee one is moderate escalation, which move from small fights to slightly bigger arguments. This can be seen where both parties did the same thing to hurt each other. They end up fighting and it became an argument where friends and families are able to see on their Facebook walls. Mean words such as stupid, idiot causes anger and hatred between parties, results in a lengthy argument. From a tiny mistake, to a playful thought then to a huge problem; so before using something that does not belong to ourselves, we have to think of the possible consequences.

The escalation of conflict for interviewee two and three is very neutral. There was neither argument nor fights, problems were solved.

Emotional responses

Facebook is a worldwide known social networking site that has numerous advantages and disadvantages. Through Facebook, one can face both good and bad conflict. By being exposed to conflicts via this medium, a person can gain knowledge on the new types of conflict faced and the ways to manage it wisely without hurting both parties. Emotions are encountered when a person’s feelings and senses are provoked by even the slightest act. When it becomes too personal, we respond differently as our mind and thought changes without us realizing it. This is when we have to learn to control our emotions when we are facing conflicts as the reaction we respond is vital in determining whether the conflict will escalate or dispute.

According to all our interviewees, they faced similar types of issues in Facebook where the other parties posted fake status or even commented negatively to them who were the victims. This results in various emotions running through the victims’ mind and they were mad at the moment of the incident as all their friends started to be judgmental towards them without knowing the true stories behind it. All they did was remaining calm and not acting out immediately without thinking twice. The first interviewee managed his conflict by investigating the culprit in the first place. The second interviewee ignored the negative comment that was sent by his friend whereas; the third interviewee confronted the person through sending messages in Facebook to the offender. Our interviewees handled their emotions well during conflict because they realized they were not doing any mistakes and they were in the right track. They were not carried away by behaving hastily where it could escalate the conflict even worse. Hence, we should learn working with our own emotions by understanding them and practice expressing ourselves in a more accurate mode as it leads to a better conflict resolution and conflict is one major issue that has no end to it where is a lifelong process for us to develop our mental state.


To sum up, the topical theme of the interviewees that we have been interviewed is mainly about teasing by friends or gets some negative/judgmental comments on Facebook. Sometimes conflict created unconsciously when someone unintentionally making a joke on somebody or commenting on somebody status. This is the main reason of conflict arises. How we going to solve a conflict when conflict occurs? It depends on what conflict systems you are in, for example, avoidant system, collaborative system, and aggressive system.

According to all of the interviewees, they have the similarity of escalation of conflict which has neutral escalation of conflict. They just act calm and ignored the negative comments or reveal their true feeling calmly to their friends in private. They are more into avoidant system or collaborative system.

Additionally, conflict may also affect our emotion feeling when it’s happen. Refer to what our interviewees said, they will feel crazy at first when someone attack them, then, they will keep calm and think wisely to solve the conflict. Lastly, the consequences will escalate or de-escalate which follow by how they solve it.


Public Nature

Facebook is one of the listed companies across the global and it is actually a social network where you use to communicate with each other and to make new friends. But, due to its status as a social networking site, it is wide open and nothing is really private when it comes to social networking because it does not included the privacy that we need. It will somehow affect the relationship between humans when doing something bad such as posting status about people or jealousy towards someone who commented on the person you are close too and so on. From the first interviewee that we have interviewed, the conflict that he encounters is that he wrote status which is sometimes funny or dirty and not to forget using someone’s Facebook account to post unwanted things when they forget to log out. He added that this is a bad behaviour as people may think that the person actually posted a status or things that are related to them that is untrue and will certainly judge them. Eventually, the other person would also start posting status about the other guy who posted those unwanted stuff at his Facebook page and there is where both of them fight and it lead to an argument which can be visible on their Facebook walls. This may affect the friendship between the both parties and possibility of ruining the friendship is high. By resolving the conflict that is going on, he reveals the person who wrote the status using the other person’s Facebook. The 2nd interviewee had seen bad conflicts on Facebook. He mentioned that people like to do negative comment on something they are supporting it and tend to be very harsh and very rude in words when they do not agree on something. For instance, people post a status toward the person they don’t like just to make them feel down. But instead of that, they should meet up and solve in properly. And some of the people at Facebook may flame the person who is already led down in the status which leads to make use of other person status to critic others. Another conflict that involves the husband and wife is the trust issue that is create through Facebook. If husband refused to hand out his password to the wife, the wife will have thought that the husband maybe hiding something from her and it will lead to misunderstanding even though there is nothing wrong, and sometimes when it comes to the worse, it may lead to divorce cases which destroy the marriage relationship because of such small matter. The second interviewee also added saying that somehow, there is people that can strengthen their relationship but as for some of the people who do not know how to manage this kind of conflict; it will lead to a bad ending in the relationship. The 3rd interviewee also encounter conflict where it is something similar with the first interviewee where her friend posted a status about her which is untrue and it was embarrassing for her as everyone who saw it including her family believed in the status. It did impact her emotionally but she and friend sat down and talk about it and the friend feel sorry for doing so.

Power Play

The definition of power which is also applied to all from the physical to the psychics is where “the ability to create change against the opposition. There are two types of power play which is active or passive. The active power play takes place when we usually get what we want when we presume resistance from another party. Meanwhile on passive power play are the connections we use when we resist the wish of other people. There is two powers that plays in these exchange which is the high power and the low power, high power is mostly the dominant of the conversation in here which have the power to convince people, the force that pushes his or her speech. They can do much more comparing to the low power people as the low power people do not really have the force and authority to fight back which they are lack of self-esteem. So with this, those with high power are likely to conquer and take over. For the dominant side of the conversation, they are holding up with their relational power of communication skills. As mention previously about the three interviewees both have either encounter or seen before conversion in the Facebook was taken over by the high power people as they have the conversational skills, their persuasive ability to persuade others about the untrue stuff mention towards the other person.


For those people who are trying to manage their conflict on Facebook, it is advisable to meet the other party face to face. If they can’t do so, it is important to talk things out in private. By posting your arguments or dissatisfaction about a matter in public will only create more problems. Kindly explain to them what bothers you. Make sure you figure out the main problem or objective. Communication is crucial in solving a conflict. They should talk to the other person about the problem maturely instead of bashing each other on Facebook. They shouldn’t get carried away with momentary misunderstanding. We cannot run away from conflicts on Facebook but we could actually prevent from getting involved in it such as not adding or confirming any unknown friends request and do not upload obscene photos of yours because some people might use it to manipulate you or use it for unrighteous reasons.

Since everyone can see whatever you posted on Facebook, you should not post harsh words or anything that will humiliate someone. You may not realise that such status or comment may have great impact to the other party. If you have posted something hurtful, be brave enough to apologize and never repeat it. In business it is common when people try to pull you down, negative comments can hurt us but it is important to ignore those words because it will only demotivate you. Also, when managing conflict, rather than being angry, you should keep calm and analyse the matter wisely before taking any actions. Listen to what the other party have to say and always learn to forgive. Sometimes you may have misunderstood about a matter which isn’t about you at all because we humans are so paranoid about everything.

Believe it or not the “I” statements can actually help to solve conflict better because the other party will see your side of the story without feeling accused or victimized. Put yourself in their place so that you could understand their feelings and point of views. Don’t ruin a friendship or relationship for an unreasonable misunderstanding.

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