Dr. Tarra Bates-Duford
Social Media & Relationships
There is no denying there are many wonder benefits to the enhancements and advancements of social media. Social media has brought families together, reunited long lost friends and former partners, allow you connect with others all across the world, provide extensive and endless information about things, people, events etc. However, there is also a negative side to living in a social media world. Using social media inappropriately can build distrust, create opportunities for stalking behaviors, effect of views and or perceptions of another person, make it possible to both disclose and obtain personal information about someone else, create feelings of jealousy and insecurities, receive unsolicited advice, as well as criticism. One of the most significant things about social media includes the ability to discover things about another person that you probably would have never have known previously or would have found out much later down the road. It is becoming more and more common for people to post and view content about every significant and insignificant aspect of their life on social media. Living in a world with diminishing privacy we can often be drawn into the lives of other via social media. Being a part of social media can reduce and or tale away mystery, intrigue, and unanswered questions.
Special events, milestones, birthdays, happiness, and sadness can all be shared on social media. Having and maintaining an online presence can allow some people to initiate contact with someone else, form relationships, and become disillusioned by someone or the relationship itself. It never ceases to amaze me how many times people share news of new loves, broken relationships, and heartbreak. I am sure many of us have had the unfortunate experience of witnessing the break-up of a relationship being played out on social media, the infamous angry rants, or the ever embarrassing TMI (too much information). Most of these negative responses to changes and stressors are due in part to not having the ability to properly negotiate challenges or conflict. Social media can be a very provocative force, it can be enticing, exciting, and confusing. Some of these feelings can be attributable to the confusion and excitement many people feel when they connect with someone else. Conflicted feelings such as this can occur when people view and consider intimacy discrepantly. Often, when there is a stark difference in the perception of what determines and defines a relationship online and a relationship “in real life”. Many have made the mistake of assuming a relationship that is almost entirely online with a relationship that happens in real life, in real time. Jealousy can be created as parties note the many “female friends” or “male friends” of the people they are in a relationship with. Social media relationships can also cause a strain or compromise current relationships as we begin to engage more and more virtually than we do physically. The ease of connecting can make sharing our lives easier and easier, reducing and or eliminating the need to reach out to others physically, humanly.
Donovan met Brinn 6 months ago on Facebook, things took off pretty quickly. They began to chat online for hours at a time, sharing all daily life events. As they became “more involved”, they began to withdraw more and more from everyone outside of social media. Donovan craving more and more information about Brinn, decided to reach out to some of her “friends” on social media. Donovan’s search resulted in his attaining information about Brinn that was both unsettling and upsetting. Without reaching out to Brinn’s social media friends, Donovan would probably would never have gained this information on his own. He did not realize Brinn had a negative reputation and had been trying unsuccessfully to change her image. Donovan no longer views Brinn in the rose colored glasses as he had done in the past, but now when he thinks of her hostility and disgust distorts his perception of her.
As a reminder, the premise of social media is sharing, sharing aspects of one’s life with others. Instead of confiding in one person we can share our feelings and thoughts with the world, instead of reaching out and gaining information from a singular person we can reach out to masses, but how much of this is too much?