I have a complicated relationship with Facebook, I’d describe it as ‘you treat me badly but I can’t resist you’. I’ll still change my profile photo every other week, I’ll still update my status whenever something happens, I’ll still stalk. But I barely (if ever) look at my boyfriend’s profile. I don’t think our relationship status is even visible.
Because Facebook complicates things. Facebook is the gateway to checking messages and tagged photos and stalking. It’s scary how lost I can get down the rabbit hole of Facebook, clicking on a friend and seeing their boyfriend, finding the exact moment on Facebook where they became a couple. Stalking their families. And it’s creepy. I don’t want to do it but it’s so easy. I think we all do it.
And let me make another frank confession, Facebook made me a bit of a psychotic girlfriend once upon a time.
I once went through my ex’s Facebook messages and found some (looking back now) seriously innocent conversations. I was young and naive and didn’t know my own worth. So constant social media stalking and checking his messages was a habitual behavior I did that exploited my own insecurities. Facebook for teenage me was a place to check up on my boyfriend and “show the world” how strong we were as a couple.
“Social media is now a breeding ground for distrust in relationships,” – Anissa Fritz, University Daily Kansan
Likewise, emerging relationships now suffer from increased stress and pressure due to social media stalking. Studies found that participants in early relationships who ‘stalked’ their crush tended to self-model to become the kind of person they think they should be through their social media updates. Before Facebook (and other social media networks) we would have to find out what a person’s interests are, what their family members look like and who their exes are just by talking to them and building a relationship. These days it’s too easy.
“It might not be intentional, but you convince yourself that something is true. A flurry of camping pictures go up on your target’s page? You might start posting status updates about a hike you may or may not actually go on. See that they listened to Taylor Swift on Spotify? Maybe you just happen to buy tickets and send an event invitation out to all your friends rallying them to go.” – Molly McHugh, Digital Trends
This is dangerous, we present ourselves in a different way to the world than we really are, but thanks to Facebook we can easily model ourselves to be what we think someone desires. That’s not a breeding ground for healthy relationships.
Facebook encourages soft breakups..
A Psychology Today article even explains how social media can be damaging for closure once the relationship is over. When you keep an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend on your newsfeed, or in your various social media presence, a new partner can become insecure. Not only that, social media is a way of staying connected with each other when a complete cut-off would be too hard. It’s called a ‘soft breakup’. “The soft breakup gives us a new way of saying, ‘I don’t want to date you, but let’s try to be friends,’” clinical psychologist Galena Rhoades said.
Indeed, many studies have shown the negative emotional impact of services like Timehop and ‘On This Day’ showing a highlight reel of the better days of past relationships. You can’t take those digital memories out into the garden and burn them in a box, you can’t free yourself if you’re still seeing them every day on your newsfeed. But most of us do it.
So why are more twenty-somethings avoiding the Facebook milestones?
Well, if the above hasn’t freaked you out enough, you’ve always got the impending doom of a relationship breakdown for all to see. When I see ‘It’s complicated’ I immediately judge, I can’t help it. Some things are private, and if you have a seriously complicated relationship, a few words on Facebook won’t save it.
I blame social media for a lot of relationship breakdowns, but I also think I have a good balance now. I use it to regularly keep in touch with my eight-year-old sister who lives in a different city, when I don’t call my Dad I can often be found sending gifs to him via Facebook messenger. In a way, it has completely changed the way I communicate with my family and friends.
The one thing I don’t want it to change is my romantic relationships. Which is why, sorry, Facebook official just isn’t for me!
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