How is constant self-documentation affecting our romantic relationships?
By: Kacy Ewing
Photo Credit: Kacy Ewing
Single millennials have lots of complaints about dating that are specific to our unique time in history. From the frustrations of the non-date date to the struggles of resisting social media stalking potential mates, dating in 2016 is a strange beast. While youthful shallowness in dating is nothing new, I wonder how all of this constant sharing and self-documentation is affecting our ability to love and interact. Since it is easier than ever to have access to other people (via text, snapchat, Facebook, whatever), do we lose our sense of mystery or ability to be thoughtful and careful?
I can’t help but think of my grandparents. When they were young, my grandma went on one date with my grandfather and then he got drafted for the war. She didn’t see him for a year. They wrote letters and sent pictures, dreaming of each other’s faces and wishing they could see each other. Of course the distance made them long for each other, but I wonder, would they have developed such a close bond if she had been snapping him videos of her cat and he had been sending her selfies every day? More connection doesn’t necessarily mean quality connection.
Presently, we have access to more content at the touch of a button than we will be able to consume in a lifetime. We also create more content than any generation before us, in just a spare second we can create a photo or video and share it widely. We also have the ability to maintain a certain amount of anonymity and distance in our connections. As Lara Kahn points out in this blog post, if you break up with someone or hurt someone through a text message you don’t have to see their tears or the sadness you’ve caused.
Will social media degrade our ability to love- actively, thoughtfully, whole-heartedly? Most likely not: love is a basic human tendency & need. Will it make us less satisfied with our loves, our partners, our lives, and less accountable for our actions? I think the answer is—for a while—yes. At some point social media will become so entrenched in our lives one of two things will happen:
A. We’ll learn to understand that social media does not reflect reality & see it more as a form of entertainment, like television, not an actual representation of our friends lives.
B. As self-sharing becomes more and more instantaneous, social media will portray a more realistic version of reality.
Either way, we would all do well to love a little more openly, not to hide behind vague text messages or Facebook likes. If you like someone, look at their face and tell them. If you want to get to know someone, be nervous & sweet, ask them to dinner. I’m sure some great things happen without risk, but the best rewards require some daring.