Social Media and Relationships: A Juxtaposition between the Generations.
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Since the dawn of civilization, every great advancement known to mankind has helped to shape and mold the way in which citizens interact with each other as well as the world around them. While our ancestors have laid the foundations for society on which we now stand, passing down pivotal elements such as religion, reason, and art, there is no arguing that some of the greatest components of society they’ve left us are their advancements in technology. Since the industrial revolution, and its demand that society shift from a more agrarian society to a more tech savvy one, cultures and ethnicities, as a result of mass city migration, have meshed like never before.
While computers and cell phones are just two major examples of how society has shifted, becoming more complex and yet making life a bit more simple at the same time, social media, has risen through the ranks in recent years, invading literally every facet of human interaction. Conceived by their various creators with the intent on allowing people both near and far to have more access to each other socially, early platforms like Sconex, AIM, Myspace and now the present day giants like Facebook, Christian Mingle, BlackPeopleMeet.com, and Match.com, just to name a few, have fulfilled their purposes.
Aside from the professional opportunities which have the potential to be capitalized on via social media outlets like LinkedIn, Facebook is indeed a website for social purposes. What has become more and more common among many of today’s youth is the total disregard for professional observance. Scrolling down one’s newsfeed a myriad of different activities ranging from fights, drinking, drugs, and everything else in between can be viewed via shares or original posts. While these issues are of great concern, Facebook has also been used as a tool for rants, and insight into the ups and downs of the relationships people go through.
It’s undeniable that the dating scene has shifted dramatically in the last 60 or so years. With the sexual revolution of the ’60s, women’s and LBGTQ rights movements of the ’70s, couples of all sexual orientations are meeting, thriving/ or and breaking up, yet the dynamics are no longer the same. Sex tapes, explicit pictures for the purposes of defamation have become a recent trend.
Joni Delasho, a 70 year old retired Dobbs Ferry resident, and retired Yonkers Police officer, had this to say on the matter, “There wasn’t anything like that… The most you’d have was a love letter, birthday card, valentine’s day card, and maybe a picture in a bathing suit.”
Not only are young people taking advantage of the social attributes of Facebook, people 50+ seem to be joining the ranks more and more as well, though they seem to be more tempered about what they post, in most cases. Nadine Glover, 55, school Psychologist of Bedford, said “I’m not heavy into the Facebook, and I would never post my business… my struggles.”
A divorcee for the past five years, Glover felt that “ deciding what to put in regards to my relationship status, divorced or single, has been very difficult throughout the process. “
Aside from her own personal decisions about her Facebook page, Glover, because of her professional background is privy to the ups and downs that young people face on a daily basis. “DRAMA, FACEBOOK DRAMA, and things spill over into school that I have to address.”
Though she couldn’t go into details, she did say that some of the issues she faces deal with is bullying, gossip, and threats.
“They do it all. It really is a source of problem. They don’t know how to use filter, and try to use Facebook as a cover to have even less of a filter.”
In past years when a person wanted to know what their significant other was up to without exposing their doubts or insecurities, they hired a private investigator to take pictures or took the cheap route and stalked the person. Because of the invasive nature of Facebook and it’s public features, Glover also had this to say. “I’ve seen girlfriends and girlfriends ask ‘why did you friend him/her?’ It’s too much. They monitor each other.”
In regards to breaking up, Delasho offered good insight into what the post breakup world was like prior to the social media frenzy.
“There was nothing malicious. Maybe you’d get a crazy that would hunt you down… I had an ex pick up the sewer and put it through a neighbor’s windshield. He was a real crazy.”
All experiences, however aren’t the same. Though explicit content wasn’t exposed issues of domestic violence were, and still continue to be a concern in many relationships. “I had a boyfriend in college. I graduated, and he still had a year to go… it was a very violent breakup…. he was like ‘POW’, clocked me in my jaw. i woke up to him kicking me in the side, then I never spoke to him ever again,” said Glover on one post break up experience.
Every situation is different because people are different. “After college I had one boyfriend, which was an easy break up. When I got divorced, I had to threaten my ex once. Most of his deleted me and blocked me on FB,” said Glover.
Though Glover and her ex-husband of 25 years share four children, they aren’t Facebook friends. “I don’t inquire. I don’t look him up. A couple of his nieces and a sister of his and I are still friends, but we keep our distance.”
Aside from the healthy and sometimes not so healthy ways people choose to or are forced into separating at times, there can be no separation if there is not first an initial encounter. Perhaps the age difference between the older generation and the present one, and ways in which they perceive the benefits of technology play heavily in their decision making, but it seems to be a general consensus that people higher in age aren’t in favor of online dating.
“You went to the disco. There was no social media to hook up. Or you did a lot of meeting people through friends and cousins. We were doing things in a group. It was a whole lot different. When you met someone you knew how tall he really was. You knew in five minutes what kind of person they were, for the most part. There wasn’t all of this computerized fake crap. It was a lot safer,” voiced Delasho.
For thousands of years, prior to the deconstruction of personal conversation via text messaging, suitors let women know how they felt through love letters at times. When Nadine and her ex-husband first decided to court he was a military man.
“He wrote me the ‘Dear Jane’ letter. He wrote me so many letters. I had a bag full of letters from him, and I wrote him every single week.”
Love letters from a person you know is no longer the case. Perhaps on special events one might receive a handwritten note, but everything is computer oriented these days. “You really don’t know who you’re meeting anymore, and I’m glad I’m not raising kinds in this day and age. Lots of people, however, seem to be successful at it,” Delasho said in regards to online dating.
Glover wasn’t too optimistic about the dating world via the World Wide Web either. “I just don’t trust them because people send their representative. You can be anyone you want to be online. You can create such a false profile to make people think you’re something you’re not, and it can be dangerous”
Both ladies, though separated by 15 years of age, culture and life experience did well to offer clear, logical, and real insight into the shift of dating dynamics, risks and concerns of their days, as well as the growth in danger by dating via social media.
“People are married with three kids, and a baby momma in every city these days,”exclaimed Delasho.
So are dating websites the answer?
“That’s the thing I dreaded most about being single again, dating. People are crazy….The very best way of meeting people is word of mouth… friends, and family.
Social media has started a new dating culture among young adults between the ages of 18-25. Surprisingly dating is much more complex now than it was when landline phones and love letters that were written and sent through the mail were in use. Technology has made it easier to connect with a potential love interest and has also made long distant relationships very possible, but in the long run it has produced a lack of intimacy and privacy within relationships. This new dating culture which takes place on social media sites such as Facebook and photo sharing application, Instagram subtly demands that the entire cyber world must know about the ups and downs of a relationship. Everyone has a front row seat to a relationship that is broadcasted on these sites.
Twenty-five year old Sean Rowe, has been in a committed relationship with his girlfriend for six years. They did not meet online but their cyber inception began on Facebook. They announced to the cyber world their “union” by sharing pictures and changing their respective status to “In a relationship.” Doing this was sealing the deal that their relationship was now official for all their family and friends to see. They were giddy and the attention felt great but things started to change as time moved on. In 2010, Instagram came on to the social media scene. Instagram was unique at the time because people were able to share their life through photos alone. Instagram also became popular because people in Hollywood and the music industry were using it and the world got to see the everyday lives of their favorite stars. Instagram differed from Facebook because whatever you posted was made completely public and anyone in the world can follow you. They did not have to request to be your friend. Sean’s page was public and he chose not to share his relationship on that platform.
“I’m not the public display of affection type of person and Facebook and Instagram are two different kind of platforms for me,” says Sean.
However Sean’s girlfriend feels differently because in this new dating culture if one is not shown to the world (Instagram) by their significant other then it could mean that they are being kept a secret. This has caused a rift in Sean’s relationship because his girlfriend feels that Instagram is more important.
“Facebook is for friends and people who actually know me, whereas Instagram I am followed by many strangers,” says Sean.
Sean is a good looking guy and is followed by many females who are not hard on the eyes. This however bothers his girlfriend because they could possibly be a threat to her relationship because on this platform many can assume that he is single. Facebook no longer matters to her because everyone knows that they are an item.
“I guess she rather those strangers know of her because clearly Facebook isn’t enough,” says Sean.
Unfortunately, Sean is not the only one facing this issue in his relationship today. Thousands of couples are having trouble in their relationship due to one not wanting to plaster his/her status on Instagram. Announcing one’s relationship status on Instagram is more crucial than announcing it on Facebook. Another thing causing a rift in social media relationships are the “like or love” button. Instagram has a button shaped as a heart where a user would press, if he/she was captivated by a photo of a fellow follower. Many girlfriends and few boyfriends are paranoid about this activity. To many girlfriends, liking something can open a door for cheating.
“I don’t understand how people get how to behave on social media wrong. There are so many memes and quotes on how to be the perfect girlfriend and how to be the perfect boyfriend and what not to do in a relationship while being social,” says Kadidia Edwards.
Edwards is a part of the younger crowd within social media, who use it as a tool to live their lives. Many times these social media forums can come off as a personal bible for some. There is always a meme that is relative to a personal situation, and quotes written anonymously that most times create a false sense of paranoia for a couple.
“When I’m in my feelings, I vent on social media which is not good,” says Edwards
Edwards is just one of many who choose to go in that route when they are facing relationship disputes. Couples find venting on social media to be therapeutic but it can also lead to more trouble. On lookers get a thrill with watching others crumble to their demise. This can also lead a way to potential rebound partners. There have been countless nasty public break ups via social media that all could have been avoided if one or both parties chose not to air their dirty laundry for the “world” to see. Celebrities have also chosen the route of venting to social media about their relationship issues, like Famous Singer Chris Brown. Chris Brown did not hesitate to air his dirty laundry with former girlfriend Karrueche Tran. Chris Brown chose to use Instagram as the platform to blast his then girlfriend about threesomes she has had, not visiting him while he was in jail, and also going on dates with a fellow music artist. Things spiraled out of control that it did not take long for their nasty break up to end up in magazines and also television. It seems that social media turns most people into internet thugs. Certain behaviors that would have never been done in public is done on these platforms.
“People will be crazy with or without social media, but certain behaviors are accepted more on social media than in the real world, and that’s just the way life is right now.”