“You’ve got a new match” … “It’s Facebook official” … “Tommy liked your photo”.
As a self-confessed social media addict and The Newsroom‘s social media editor, I have had first-hand experience with the impact of social media sites – such as Facebook, Twitter, Tinder and Instagram – on relationships, especially those between guys and girls.
These days, no matter how much you and your boyfriend might behave like a couple, it seems like it will never be official until you’ve updated your relationship status on Facebook to “In a Relationship”.
This brings about its own problems, as I discovered first hand, when I found myself questioning the quality of my relationship because it wasn’t “Facebook-official”. This particular person didn’t want his “friends” to know we were dating. I began to doubt myself, asking whether I had done something wrong? Doubting the relationship I had with this individual – was it even a relationship? When the relationship ended not many people even knew we had been together, because it was never qualified on Facebook. How had it come to this? That a strain was put on my relationship because it wasn’t recognised on a social platform. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t completely ignore the fact that we were together. We were tagged in posts together, there were photos with lovey-dovey captions … but the “single” relationship status loomed like a dark cloud.
Online sites take away the personal side of a relationship: the face-to-face contact, the three-hour-long phone calls, the love letters written by hand. Where is the mystery if you’ve Facebook-stalked them to the point that you know exactly what their profile picture was four years ago? The initial uncertainty of a fresh relationship is removed when you can just hop on someone’s Facebook site and judge them by their online posts. You can find out what they like, dislike, feel and think by scrolling down their page, learning things that you would otherwise have taken weeks, months or years to discover.
After experiencing social media apps such as Tinder I value the use of proper grammar, especially semicolons. When accidentally sending a winky face instead of a smiley face can lend your message a “kinky” overtone, you know you have a problem (e.g. “My bed is so comfy :)” or “My bed is so comfy ;)” ). The cyber wall between us and others has made it easier for harmless comments to be taken the wrong way, taking away the actual contact humans need to experience. We’ve all witnessed a relationship status change to “single”: it’s public and it’s brutal … more so than if it was done in person. A cyber wall is placed between partners and the personal aspect of a break-up is diminished. Tears are avoided when a cowardly partner can end a relationship within a lengthy text message or a Facebook inbox.
Personal devotion to a loved one is no longer expressed through song, letter or face-to-face words. Even if you’re sitting right beside your significant other, chances are they’ll prove they love you by sending a picture of a sunset and a quote … by someone else. And your Instagram account will be tagged and it will be uploaded to Facebook, just so you (and everyone else) know how much they love you.
Social media is growing, and is far from disappearing in the near future, but will our relationships survive its impact? To give it the best chance it is important to be on the same page as your significant other when it comes to online activity. You need to know where to draw the line and to be in agreement that you will not let social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram impact on your lovin’. – Alana Scott
Photo from flickr: David J. Querol