Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter are all fun, but are they helping or hurting your life? Here’s the scoop on social media and relationships.
Ten or fifteen years ago, the average person hadn’t even heard of the term “social media.” But now, it’s a central part of most people’s lives, especially with young people. While it is fun and everything, have you ever thought about the interconnection between social media and relationships?
Gone are the days of calling your boyfriend or girlfriend’s house and having their parents answer the phone. Today, it’s all about messaging each other on social media. But is this necessarily a positive change? Let’s take a look, starting with what’s good about social media and relationships.
The GOOD about social media and relationships
When Facebook first went mainstream around 2008, many people were excited about it. They saw nothing but possibilities when it came to relationships. So let’s see how social media and relationships is a good thing.
#1 It re-connects you with old friends. Never thought you’d ever see or hear from that boy you had a crush on in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade? Well, now you can! It seems like you can re-connect with everyone and anyone. It’s really fun to see what your old friends are up to these days, even if you’re a new high school graduate. [Read: Why social media is killing your relationships]
#2 It helps you stay connected to family. Many of us do not live near our families. So, for instance, when a couple has a new baby, it’s great for the rest of the family to be able to “be there” as the new child is born. And then all the pictures to follow makes it feel like you’re not so far away from each other.
#3 It’s right at your fingertips. Picking up the phone and calling someone takes time, effort, and sometimes even planning. But talking to someone on social media is as easy as 1-2-3 because almost everyone is attached to their phones these days.
#4 You can engage in interesting conversation and debates. I know we all cringe when there are political debates on social media. However, it does provide us the opportunity to have debates with other people about important things. It can be a great way to interact with others while exercising your brain at the same time.
#5 You can meet new friends. I have met some of my good friends via Facebook, and I’m sure you have too. Social media allows us to connect to new people who we might have never met if it weren’t for the fact that we are exposed to so many people on social media. [Read: 9 Social media sites to use to snag yourself a date]
#6 You can meet people with similar interests. Interested in spirituality? Hiking? Football? Well, there are so many groups on Facebook that you can regularly interact with other people who have the same interests as you do.
The BAD and the UGLY things about social media and relationships
As we all know, social media isn’t always fun and games, or wine and roses. In fact, social media and relationships are sometimes a bad combination. So let’s take a look at the bad and the ugly things about social media and relationships.
#1 Ohhhh, the misunderstandings. We’ve all been there. You say something in a status update about how annoyed you are with certain kinds of people. And then your friend Jane thinks that you’re talking about HER, when in fact you were talking about your boss. Then she gets mad at you. Hmmm. Bad deal. [Read: The happy couple’s guide to social media etiquette]
#2 The “relationship status.” So, you’re dating a new person? Awesome! You’re in love? Great! But… uh oh. Should you put “In a Relationship With… “ on your profile? What if the other person doesn’t want to? What does that mean? Is the relationship doomed? Ohhh, the questions… [Read: Facebook official relationship – Is your guy ready for it?]
#3 The jealousy. Your friend from high school just got married to the man of her dreams. And your college roommate is posting about the amazing European vacation he is on. Dang. Don’t you feel like a loser now? Jealousy can be such a horrible thing when it comes to social media and relationships.
#4 The number of likes. If you’ve been on social media for longer than a minute, you know that some people literally measure their self-worth by the number of likes they get on a picture or posting. And then they think that no one likes them. Sad, so sad. Right? [Read: Couples and social media PDA – To share or not to share?]
#5 The passive aggressive status updates. You’re mad at your boyfriend, so you think long and hard about what status update will get his attention and make him jealous… without being obvious. Like, going out with a group of friends, and then taking a picture with some hot guy you just met and posting it. Yeah, um, not a good idea. Unless you want to be single again.
#6 The “humble brag.” We all know what this is. It’s the person who says, “I’m so blessed! I can’t believe that God brought me enough money to buy my dream house!” or “I am so blessed to be married to my best friend! What a lucky guy I am!” It’s where someone tries to appear humble, but they’re really bragging. Barf.
#7 The narcissism. I’m sure you know the “Selfie Queens” just like I do. They’re everywhere. But needing and wanting all the focus and attention on you is very narcissistic. And narcissism is definitely not a quality you want to have in a healthy relationship. [Read: 11 Things couples should quit doing on social media]
#8 Less face-to-face interaction. A lot of people find themselves going out and seeing people in person less and less. In some ways, it’s just easier to talk to them on social media.
The younger generation might not even know what it’s like to hang out, talk, and not look at their phones. Pretty soon we’ll all just be isolated with our phones and never leave the house to actually see people.
#9 The fake relationships. So you have 3,000 friends? Great! Congratulations. But, uh, how many of them have you met in real life? Probably very, very few. It makes people feel popular when they have a lot of friends and followers, but it’s not real. It’s just an illusion.
#10 The affairs. Hey, it’s great that you found and re-connected with your girlfriend from high school who dumped you *and you still haven’t gotten over*. But you’re married. And she’s married. Oh heck! Who cares, right?! Well, your spouses do. Social media makes it way too easy to cheat.
Hey, I love Facebook and social media just as much as the next person. And it’s not inherently bad – or good. It’s all about how you use it. But, just keep in mind that the interconnection of social media and relationships is a powerful one.
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Dr. Carol Morgan
Dr. Carol Morgan has a Ph.D. in communication and is a professor at Wright State University where she loves corrupting young minds. As a relationship and succes...