Social Media Damaging Romance
*Checks Whatsapp* “Did I sound too needy?” “Maybe I should have added an emoji to lighten the mood.” “HAHAHAHAH” “Okay wait, did I sound too overpowering? Let me backspace.” “HAHA” “Ahhh, that sounds better.”
If our friend has a new bae, the first thing we’ll ask for is his Instagram handle. And eventually, we might even forget his real name. Social media has transformed the way we live and romantic relationships are no exception.
Even though social networking has its perks, it also has some downfalls. Here are 10 ways these online tools may potentially damage romantic relationships.
1. Our Need To Share Ruins Moments
You’re having a romantic stroll by the beach with your boyfriend. You can’t wait to spend some alone time with him, and just bask in each other’s company. Then you hear, “Eh, this is a good OOTD spot. Let’s take a selfie!!”
Capturing eventful episodes on our phones is almost an instinct today with #takenwithiphone7 quality shots. Additionally, social media milestones sometimes get mistaken for actual milestones, like whether we’re “Facebook official.”
Many times, we’re too busy worrying about crafting the perfect Snapchat story rather than enjoying the moment. This ironically distracts us from the people who made these moments meaningful to begin with.
2. Replacing Words With Emojis
Texting with emojis, memes and gifs are shortcuts to convey our feelings and reactions. Imagine how Romeo and Juliet’s expression of love would’ve changed over the years:
The Renaissance Period: “My bounty is as boundless as the sea, My love as deep; the more I give to thee, The more I have, for both are infinite.”
Year 2000: I love you so very much.
Year 2006: I luv u
Year 2016: *insert meme/gif about love* *kissy face emoji* *heart emoji*
As if finding someone on the same wavelength wasn’t hard enough, we now have confusing text etiquette to abide by. Your girlfriends tell you “the longer/faster the reply, the more the love” and “a lack of response = lack of concern.” Every text sent is carefully crafted to show that you care, but not too much.
And then there’s the double-ticks. The “seen/read at 10.42pm” notification, which will make you wonder whether he died because it’s been 10 minutes since his last reply.
3. Perfection Is A LIE
“Awww, you guys are too cute!” “YOU GUYS ARE #COUPLEGOALS!!” Let’s face it. Receiving these cyber-pats on the back allow us to feel good about ourselves and our relationships. So sometimes when we see the comments on others’ photos, we subconsciously try to emulate them.
Female magazines glorify celebrity “it” couples and television dramas elude us into thinking that there’s a perfect kind of love. The media warps our expectations of relationships and we gladly buy into it. But are these #relationshipgoals truly goals that we should work towards?
Perhaps we were simply brainwashed by the media to believe that if we imitate these perfect couples, we’ll attain nirvana.
4. Incomplete Information-gathering Distorts Perceptions
Social media has altered the way we understand people around us. We can introduce ourselves to individuals without actual interaction. Got a crush but too shy to speak to him IRL? Simply stalk his Facebook and Instagram accounts and you’ll know (almost) his entire life story—from the name of his pet goldfish to his 3 exes in secondary school.
Though cyberstalking is convenient, it’s like squinting through a tainted glass. Social media allows us to curate the perfect cyber profile that may not be an accurate representation of who we really are.
The misalignment between our virtual selves or actual selves may create misunderstandings and disappointing “Expectations vs Reality” moments. “Why do you not look like Godfrey Gao in person? What do you mean it’s just Mei Tu Xiu Xiu??”
5. Instant Gratification Breeds Impatience
We grew up having instant access to almost anything. With a few clicks, food, information and random items like bottled fresh air will be served at your doorstep. But we can’t expect our partner to be like Siri/Google and give us whatever we’re searching for immediately.
Today, spending time and effort to get to know someone may seem like a tiresome chore. After all, why would you want extra work when you can just express your interest in them by clicking several “like” buttons?
However, these short-lived victories (i.e. likes, shares and comments) can’t form the basis of a romantic relationship. Just because he liked 30 of your selfies doesn’t mean it’s love. False virtual intimacy cannot replace real relationships that require time and patience to nurture.
6. Unnecessary Stress And Insecurity
“Honey, when we travel let’s take a photo like that #followmeto couple.” We mimic popular online fads and project a near perfect relationship online because we’re #blessed and the world must know. Because “wahhh, that’s insta-worthy man! Die die must post!”
Our FOMO (a.k.a. fear of missing out) tendencies may simply be an innate reaction to self-evaluation. But the comparison may elude us into thinking that we’re missing out on important milestones, which may result in stress and insecurity from constantly trying to keep up with the
Kardashians latest trends.
Besides, life itself is a string of competitions. We grew up competing to enter schools with our PSLE & ‘N/O/A’ level results. Then we compete to get jobs that require experience that we don’t have because no one wants to hire us. Since social media became a money-making tool in recent years, it has turned from a personal diary to a platform where we compete for the number of followers and likes.
7. Online Surveillance Strains Relationships
The multitude of channels we’ve got to interact with others feeds our social media-checking obsession. Being kaypoh is in our DNA and we want to constantly be in the know.
The Internet to humans is like brains to zombies. Without them, we’ll probably die. It’s this reliance and information overload on cyberspace that may overwhelm us. Besides, we may read too much into things. “Did he just follow a girl?! WHO IS SHE???” Our raging female hormones (or, *coughs* jealousy) may push us to cyberstalk her till we figure out her complete family tree, including her chihuahua.
Then we also wonder how “reachable” is the girl? Is she a Hollywood celebrity that he can only stalk online or is she his classmate that he can actually get to know?
If we take a step back to think—is our relationship so weak that a “like” on someone else’s photo can destroy the connection we share?
8. Emotional Cheating Is A Click Away
Social media itself doesn’t cause cheating. However, it simplifies the affair.
Though there isn’t any physical contact, social media eases the process of emotional cheating. Instead of going through bulky Yellow Pages to find the number of your crush, all you have to do today is look him up on Facebook and voilà—a conversation with him is merely an “add friend” button away.
67% of Singapore’s population are on social media, while the global average is 31%. With the ease of reaching out to others, temptation is all around. Couples who build their relationships on shaky foundations may be susceptible to cheating or being cheated on.
Besides, there’s additional room for doubt if the couple met through social media. This may also lead to excessive cyberstalking should the core of the relationship be weak.
9. Pressure To Depict Happy Relationships
Social media creates the illusion of personal space through private profiles and news feeds. And this illusion coupled with the ease of sharing makes it possible for people to overshare. But whatever problems couples actually have, are hidden from social media.
Why? Because nobody likes to see negative shit. Besides, no matter how much it hurts, washing your dirty linen online doesn’t solve anything. So we perpetuate the fairy tale. Every couple has to act like they’re constantly in a state of bliss on Instagram.
10. It’s Harder To Get Over Exes
While staying connected and informed about our loved ones is great, the same can’t be said for the people we fall out of love with. Social media immortalises our experiences. Even Facebook reminds us of them with its “moments” feature. But what happens when the relationship sours? How do you change your relationship status online without being bombarded by curious friends?
Apart from that, being in a small country like Singapore, many of our social circles overlap. Our exes may end up being part of a random conversation among friends e.g. “Hey, did you know X is dating Y now? I saw it on Instagram.” Even if you weren’t interested in your ex’s life, it comes up.
The constant reminders of your ex, doesn’t make it easier to forget him/her. So even though social media gives us the ability to stay connected, it can become a burden when a party is not over the other after the relationship’s over.
Many of us, millennials in particular, grew up with social media. We witnessed the evolution of Friendster to Facebook, MSN Messenger to FB Messenger—these online platforms don’t just facilitate communication, they have become the primary tools we use to communicate.
While social media is a useful intermediary that connects us with our loved ones (even when they’re miles away), it may distance us from those we’re physically present with. It creates a false sense of intimacy when we think that posting an IG photo is proof we’re tight with certain individuals.
As much as we’re addicted to it, it’s important to have a balance and focus on things and people that truly matter in real life.