Relationships are already complex when you think about it but nowadays with the advancement of technology and the birth of social media, its complexity has reached new levels. After watching the Netflix series YOU, it was obvious that modern dating might just be under threat. With the rise of social media and social networking, this series shows us how the “Instagram romantic ideals” have permeated our society, giving men and women alike false expectations for their relationships. The scary part about the series itself is the way in which it highlighted how Joe, the main character, was able to work his way from stalker to boyfriend while doing whatever it took to eliminate all obstacles standing in his way. Although the show is highly entertaining, it’s also thought provoking. If the behaviours exhibited don’t make you uncomfortable then I may be looking at this the wrong way, but let’s explore for a moment the impact of social media culture on modern relationships.
There’s a wide range of people on social media – from those who are inherently private and don’t like to share much, to those who are extremely open and like to share every single detail, in so much that we can probably tell you almost everything about their personal lives. Truthfully, those people that share a lot may not be trying to live their entire lives online, instead they might genuinely have a desire to build a community around their lifestyle and beliefs. After all, it’s called social media for a reason- it’s a place where you should be able to share as much as you want and build relationships with like minded people. This however doesn’t take away from the fact that while some people sincerely enjoy the beautiful lives that they post online, there are others who post with the motive of image building and controlling the perception of others. “YOU” explores a great concept of how easy it is for a man nowadays to manipulate himself into someone’s life romantically through creating an ideal persona – a knight in shining armour to
save you from your barren, depressing love life- who would successfully make it to boyfriend status because of the things a woman shares online.
This seemingly innocent Netflix series only strengthened my belief that many relationships are falling prey to increased pressures caused by cyber competition with their online friends and their posts,which often get in the way of building meaningful relationships due to the fragile egos and unrealistic expectations of many couples. Simply put, people believe that what is being projected by others is ideal. This phenomenon makes falling into the trap of cyber manipulation so much easier, bringing success to the “nice guys” with “dark hearts” who are looking for fragility to trample on. Although many successful relationships nowadays do start online via a dating site, Facebook, Instagram, you name it, there’s still the opportunity for social media to run or ruin your relationship. Here are three points I believe you should remember when dating in this modern era of social media:
1. Relationships are more than what people post online
Sometimes the relationships we see online are not at all what they appear to be. It’s important to take time away from focusing on what other people share about their love lives and keep in mind realistic expectations. It’s either that or setting your relationship up for failure before it even gets anywhere. If we’re being honest with ourselves no relationship is the same,nor can it be like every Instagram couple we see displaying perfection as they travel the world year-round sipping margaritas.This doesn’t mean that you can’t choose to share the good and happy times of your relationship or that you should be “hanging your dirty laundry out in the public” as the saying goes, but instead it means to stay conscious of the fact that relationships come with both ups and downs and definitely won’t always feel like a vacation. The “honeymoon” feeling makes up part of the relationship but for the most part it takes hard work and more than a few falling outs with your partner too. Now that most of us have an account on one social media platform or another, it’s great to share our happy times with our family and loved ones there, but let’s be reminded that posting on social media should not be the driving factor or you’ll find yourself depending on the ‘likes’ for your happiness instead of real love.
2. Focus on making meaningful memories (not just photographs)
Capturing the moment has become increasingly important to many millennials now that there’s the opportunity to post online and let everyone see just how amazing of a time you’re having on your bae-cation. That’s all well and good but let’s keep in mind what we’re supposed to be building when dating someone new or even in an older relationship. Both our mental and emotional health needs to be cared for, and capturing photos of every moment doesn’t necessarily do that although it’s great to have reminders of the fun times had. Why not prioritize how you feel in the relationship rather than how it looks on the outside to others? This would actually save you from many disappointments and heartaches when the primary attention is placed on fostering love and connectivity between the two instead of forcing it for the picture- perfect moment. A good practice would be to go out with your partner and not take a single photo or post a single snap. Maybe even turn your cell phones off for a bit and open the communication line between you both for deep heartfelt conversations. Live in the moment. Focus on how the time out together makes you feel, listen to the opinions shared and enjoy the pureness of the love you’re nurturing. Give each other your undivided attention. Remove the pressure of having to post a photo of the two of you as evidence of your love. It’s in these genuine moments you may be able to determine true compatibility rather than what you believe you two have in common based on what you guys share on the internet.
3. Spend time working on your relationship with real conversations instead of venting Online
Finally, but so importantly, after you’ve escaped that trap of the social media
couples and their fairy-tale relationship and you’ve taken time away from posting everything you guys do together online, comes another key social media behaviour to take notice off. Please avoid going to your online platform to vent or express any and everything that goes wrong in your relationship. Build your love based on communication and trust. Your partner should be able to trust that anything you need to express can be said directly and not via 280 characters per tweet. Dating in a social media era makes it easy for us to want to turn to our “safe space” on the world wide web where we can share our thoughts, it’s even easier to do so when we’re angry. If it’s not sharing memes to insinuate how you truly feel, it’s actually dropping all the details to your followers and making them a part of your relationship too. If you have a problem with your partner, talk it out in person. Throwing vague clues to the hounds of social media is just going to make things worse. This behaviour not only threatens your relationship because you have now invited other people into your intimate life, but it makes you a perfect target for a prey like our guy Joe previously mentioned who wants to see how he can make his way in by capitalizing on what’s going wrong on the inside.