I am the first to admit I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love the fact that I can connect to people all over the world but hate the fact that I feel glued to it. If you are anything like me then you also wake up every morning and spend at least 15 to 20 minutes scrolling through endless feeds of social media. What bothers me, even more, is not how much time people spend on it, which is an entirely different conversation, but how much people get their worth from it. I do not want to come off as if I am putting myself on a higher pedestal because I am just as addicted—the only difference is that I am starting to be aware of it.
Everyday videos and photos are being posted about what mountain Sarah climbed, or the fact that Andre just landed a career straight out of college.
“Envy our perfect life”
Between Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram it is nearly impossible to not see some amazing things that friends, family or complete strangers are doing. Every day, videos and photos are being posted about what mountain Sarah climbed, or the fact that Andre just landed a career straight out of college. The problem with this is not that they are wrong for sharing it, honestly great for them, but that we begin to feel the fear of missing out (FOMO). The fear that I may not be headed down the right path because I am not traveling the world. The fear that I may not be the right person because they don’t shower me with rose petals and gifts.
Researchers have found that envy may increase with time spent on Facebook. This is because of a well-known social psychology phenomenon called social comparison. What is interesting about this theory is that it was originated in 1954. This just shows that even before color TV there was a drive to gain accurate self-evaluations based the people around us. The problem now is that we have access to everyone around the world at all times.
Facebook and the “reward” our brain receives
One of the many things that stuck with me after reading “How to Make Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie is that people love to talk about themselves. This may seem obvious to most but Carnegie states that allowing people to talk about themselves actually increases their ‘approval’ of you. If the word of a businessman isn’t enough for you, researchers from Harvard have shown that the pleasure parts of our brain are just as active when talking about ourselves than when engaging in food, money, and sex!
The internet has become such a strange paradox for privacy. While looking at someone’s Facebook page you can tell a lot about the person. You know how old they are, what town they grew up in, where they are working now, and what they’re interests are just from their posts. You take it a step further and watch their Snapchat feed and you can see what they are doing on a moment to moment basis.
Yet, at the same time allows for the privacy to talk to people in secrecy. This is especially stressful for those who have had destructive relationships in the past. Having to always worry if someone is sliding into someone’s DM, or liking their photos or receiving seductive Snapchats puts a huge strain on a relationship. When dating in the social media era, it is nearly impossible to avoid wondering about their social media habits.
Social Media Affection
This is probably what drives my hate for social media the most. In the past, one of the biggest struggles for relationships was providing reassurance through a public display of affection. Now that same struggle is being split into two battlefronts -- real life and social media.
Just because Steven posted a sweet post about how much he loves his girlfriend should not take value away from the fact that we just went out to eat the night before and I did not post about it
Social media has become a covert operation for who can be the cutest couple. This is where social-comparison plays a huge role. The more we see other couples being surprised with rose petals or tickets to Paris the more we feel that is what it means to be in a relationship. Ideally, we all want to be that perfect couple that can do anything and go anywhere because happiness is the drive. There is nothing wrong with that! What draws the line between wishing and wanting or healthy and unhealthy, is when not being that “perfect couple” becomes the inspiration for an argument.
What frustrates me most about displays of affection on social media is the fact that it is becoming the norm for showing reassurance. Just because Steven posted a sweet post about how much he loves his girlfriend, that should not take away value from the fact that we just went out to eat the night before and I did not post about it. The more images like this below are posted, the more pressure it will have on couples to prove their love to the world rather than each other.
Seeing before being told.
Access to social media in a moments notice can be both beneficial and problem causing. Sometimes information reaches the internet before it reaches your significant other, causing a fight. Finding out from social media that your partner who originally told you that they are meeting up with friends but somehow forgot to tell you that they were at a bar down the road can be a bit bothersome. Or realizing that they haven't responded to your text but can like photos or posts can be frustrating. Both of these could just simply be because they were distracted. Of course, it could mean something worse, but in most cases the real world just became more interesting than technology.
Not everyone is on the same wavelength when it comes to affection. Sometimes people are overly affectionate and sometimes affection isn’t even in their dictionary. It is important to find a middle ground especially when it comes to social media. Some people want to show the world how much they care about their lover and others want to show their lover that they are their world. Both are different outlets but still have the same meaning. It is important to meet somewhere in the middle and not let social-comparison ruin what is working already.