There’s an old Chinese curse that goes “May you live in interesting times.”
Now, you might wonder, why is that a curse? Who wouldn’t want to live in interesting times? Well, “interesting times” bring with them drama and insecurity.
Social media is like that. It’s always interesting, changing, morphing, growing, surprising. And that’s both a blessing and curse.
I’m deeply interested , specifically, in how social media is affecting our relationships.
I hear people saying all the time “we never talk face-to-face anymore. Everyone is looking at their phones.”
And it’s true… to some degree. Yes, in many ways, social media and technology has made our relationships more superficial. Now, instead of actually talking to someone, you just have to hit the “like” button. But the good thing about it? If you aren’t able to see your friends for some reason, social media helps us stay in touch.
I have a good friend who has chosen not to be on Facebook, and we have grown further and further apart over the years. It’s sad, but true. It’s where my life is.
Add to this the complication of romantic relationships. First off, people are meeting each other online, through online dating sites, yes, but also through social media. One of my friends met her husband on Twitter.
So, now, in addition to dealing with all the weirdness and negotiating that comes with a new relationship, we have to figure out also how we represent ourselves online. Do you ask the person you are dating to be FB friends? And if so, when is the right time to ask? When do you update your relationship status? Do you remove photos of exes? Do you remove exes as friends?
Social media is resulting in breakups, as well. There are daily jealousies–from ones that are innocent, but get read into, to catching your partner flirting online. Drama, fights, breakups have all been the result.
What’s the difference between “snooping” and “cyberstalking?” There was a time when people’s lives were a lot more private. Their past could probably stay there, unless they chose to reveal it. Now, our lives are online. It’s easy for someone to google search us and see what we’ve done in the past, to scroll through our Instagram feed to get a sense of who we are, what we do, and who we hang out with. What if you see something you don’t like? You now own that knowledge and can’t take it back? Is that snooping? Or just arming yourself with facts?
These are all questions that we didn’t have to ponder or answer 5 years ago… now, they are the stuff of my daily conversations with friends and students, as we try to untie these knots.
We live in interesting times, because there are no roadmaps for social media when it comes to relationships. We are all out there, on our own, stumbling around in the dark, trying our best to figure it out.
I can only say that whatever works for me (and I do have some pretty clear rules around this stuff) may not work for you. And vice versa. It’s another thing we have to discuss and sort out.
But at least we live in interesting times.
I’d love to hear from you; how has social media affected your relationships, positively or negatively?