The aim of social media is to be noticed and being noticed today requires social media. Access is easier, numbers are greater, relationships move faster.
The trouble is we are looking to present a digital representation of ourselves which is perfect, all the flaws wiped out. You do not see photos of people crying in a library on a rainy day with a blog about the argument that caused it. Our digital selves are fake one dimensional lies - we have become masters of impression management, all seeking self-worth validation through romantic fantasy where the ideal partner is constructed in the mind of the user.
All this sets us up for a fall. A fall of varying degrees where disappointment reigns because expectations are unrealistic. For example, Tinder, the most successful dating platform with 50 million users. Swipe left, swipe right, reduces fear of rejection to virtually zero because you will never know if someone liked you unless you ’swiped right’ yourself. You can even share songs and photos giving the user more room to share their perfect digital self. It is inevitable that real life will let us down. Real life is not the endless highlight reels we see on social media. Tinder users are fast forgetting how real relationships and face to face communication works.
One of the saddest images we see these days is a mixed sex bunch of twenty/thirty somethings sitting around a table and they are all on their phones. We see it everywhere. What are they doing? Tinder and other apps gives us the impression that there is always someone better out there; the options are so huge that users take the path of least resistance and opt to make no choice instead of (maybe) the wrong one. The grass is always greener, even when the right person for you might be sitting opposite.
The real danger is we live our lives IN media not WITH media and we become incapable of managing a serious relationship and dating. This disease is more prevalent with younger people but it is spreading. The forty plus year olds, even when they get on that physical date, spend a lot of time on our phones. 40% of partnered couples say they are bothered by how much time their partner spends on the phone. It is annoying to some, causes jealousy in others, and it can make the mundane aspects of daily life seem less interesting when in fact it is those mundane moments which are remembered with the most nostalgia when the relationship ends.
The moral of the story is simple: use social media, don't let it use you. Social media can assist in many areas if your life, it can help keep you connected and it is a time capsule of memories but if you find yourself comparing your relationship to what you see online, it may be best to unfollow accounts that make you feel bad and focus on those that make you feel empowered.
If any of this resonates, your smart phone can tell you how much time a week you spend on social media - why not cut that time down and keep it real?