Social media can be stressful, inauthentic, unhealthy and, ultimately, destructive
The first and last thing that most people see every day is their phone. It’s only human to wonder how the phone and social media impacts our relationship. That’s because we live in a world where social media is EVERYWHERE. Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. Snapchat. LinkedIn. Twitter. TikTok. Did I miss any? There are dating and gaming sites. Social media is an integrally woven part of our lives. We also live in times where people have the option to share whatever they’d like in their social media posts and comments on other people’s shares.
Many people choose to keep their dirty linen or romantic stories private. But many couples love posting intimate details about their relationship on a public forum. I have always been curious about the motivation behind the perfectly curated shares. Is it because they genuinely want the world to know how they feel about their partner? Or is the bragging about their companion more to convince themselves and less about telling others? Or is it about marking territory and letting their ex know that they are happier now than they were with them? Is it because the number of likes they garner on each status and picture keeps rising with time, so it’s an ego boost? Or is it out of guilt because they are cheating on their spouse and what better place than social media posts to bury secrets by sharing falsified, romantic stories?
Research says that people who use social media to talk big about their relationship are usually lonely and unhappy. On a good day, you understand that people fake happiness and healthy relationships. But we are all humans with a beating heart that is also filled with expectations and trepidation. Sometimes, instead of cringing at people’s PDA, you might crave it too in your life. We might believe we are evolved and unaffected by what others do, but we all have our weak moments. It’s important to remember that social media can have detrimental effects on relationships.
It makes room for inauthenticity: Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself scrolling social platforms mindlessly? Now imagine, if you’ve had an argument with your partner and you vent/write something in your posts or stories? An opportunist slides into your DM and says exactly what your partner hasn’t said or done. You feel heard, visible, and understood by someone you’ve never met, or a person who has a virtual persona feeding your ego and satisfying their fantasy. Now this creates inauthentic intimacy. I personally know people who “found” another person online. They never met, but the social media guise was enough to create delusions of a futuristic, reliable bond. The potential new relationship looked so much better than the one they were a part of that they walked away.
It distracts you from nurturing a healthy connection: I am not a psychologist. But as someone getting a doctorate in Ayurveda, I am trained to look for more than what’s shared in any session or conversation. Because our repressed emotions, often, are the root cause of many diseases. I know couples who talk about their relationship issues behind their partner’s back but never proactively take steps to resolve anything. To their partner’s face, they pretend everything is normal. Instead of doing things that can create closeness in their relationship, they are constantly on social media even when with each other. Sometimes, they tag each other in romantic shares…which feels like a reminder to self, Oh yeah, I still love this person. But in real life, there is nothing. Instead of clicking pictures to post and responding to comments from strangers, imagine if they’d engage in a conversation with their partner.
It puts pressure on the relationship: My husband and I are private people when it comes to our feelings for one another. When I have had a bad day, he keeps room for my angst. I do the same for him. We celebrate each other’s successes with true pride. I have been married to my husband longer than I have lived with my parents. As a woman in my forties, I have gone from audio cassettes to CDs to DVDs to Netflix and calling cards to WhatsApp. This transformation happened with my husband, too. There was no social media when we first met. In fact, I still remember my husband opened a Facebook account for me when we were visiting a friend in Hong Kong to celebrate my graduation from Columbia University. He thought I’d enjoy sharing pictures with the family on this platform instead of emailing them everything. That said, he doesn’t use social media for anything aside from news, sports, football, Tom Brady, and more sports. Nothing more. This is typically fine with me. But when we have an argument, the thought has crossed my mind: Are we doing OK? Why doesn’t he share anything about me on socials? Because social media has become such a tool for public validation and proof of expressing undying love. When upset, I forget we choose to keep our lives private. I know that I don’t need other people to validate my marriage or get an insight into what we have.
There is a destructive comparison: I once knew a couple where the wife was cheating on the husband. No, this wasn’t an open marriage. The wife had a boyfriend, the husband knew, and the couple (husband and wife) fought like imbeciles instead of seeking marriage counseling or getting a divorce. But come the holidays and vacations, this man always shared a beautiful picture of the two of them and wrote poetic recitations and referred to his wife as an angel. Well, I knew the dark truth about this family, but most didn’t. So many of our other common friends unfriended this couple on Facebook because they felt their public display of affection and opulence made them feel their relationship lacked the same spark and gestures. “I felt my life was so mundane and unromantic compared to theirs,” a friend confessed.
Social media bombards us with images of what an “ideal relationship” should look like. Every couple has their love language. Every individual is allowed to navigate their comfort level with social media usage. Remember, it evolves with time. Just because someone posts about their partner constantly doesn’t mean they love them more. If your partner doesn’t post about you as much or in a similarly heartfelt way, don’t assume they don’t want to be with you. My husband and I don’t feel the need to share our personal relationship with strangers or even our friends/family. It’s called personal and intimate for a reason. Figure out your dynamic. Even more importantly, spend more time nourishing your real-life connections instead of sharing posts about each other online. To lead a balanced life, don’t let social media tell your story about your relationship.
“When it comes to love and happiness, don’t compare your real life experiences to someone else’s seemingly perfect well-crafted social media posts.” ~ Germany Kent