In recent years, the Internet and social media has had an influence on how people interact, this includes romantic relationships. Change is a normal part of life, but some changes can have adverse effects. The question becomes, is social media harming relationships? My response to this question is yes because people aim to portray themselves as their best self on social media which has an immense impact on relationships. Click below to read more.
People often dramatize their posts on social media for the “wow” factor. The dramatization can go either way, it can be excessively positive or excessively negative depending on the author’s intentions and views. The dramatization may not reflect the situation accurately and the viewpoint is usually one-sided.
Most will agree that social media posts are dramatized more often than not, the question becomes why. People strive to portray their best self on social media. Let’s take a moment to divulge into what the best self means for the purposes of this article. In essence, social media is a platform where people talk about themselves and form their public image. People will want themselves to be portrayed in the best way possible, even if it isn’t an accurate representation of who they really are, because everyone they know will be seeing the post. This leads to people positively phrasing posts to make them self look better or negatively portraying someone else to make them self look better. The cumulative actions of an individual posting in a nature that makes them appear better for their online image is defined as the best self.
Individuals who strive to portray their best self online can develop mannerisms and tendencies which transfer to their personal life. This leads to a number of problems in the individual’s personal life, the best self turns relationships into a performance, makes individuals particularly narcissistic and skews the concept of what love really is. For the purposes of this article, I will be only discussing romantic relationships moving forward. That is not to say that the best self does not impact other facets of one’s life, it does, this article is meant to discuss the harms of social media usage in relation to romance.
An individual posting about their relationship online is likely transferring the best self to the portrayal of their relationship too. Love is a common theme in all forms of expression, social media users enjoy reading and posting about love too. Most likely, posts about the relationship will make the couple seem perfect or, alternatively, an innocent fight between the couple will appear villainous on social media to make the individual who is posting look better. Ultimately, the relationship becomes a source of inspiration for the individual’s posts which becomes a literal performance for social media readers.
Not only that, the response from readers can be positive reinforcement to the author whereby they repeat their social media posting activity. Also, commenters may give advice or opinions on the post which can have an impact on the relationship despite the commenter having no idea what is really happening in the relationship because they only know the dramatized, one-sided version of the event. Relationships shouldn’t be a performance, they should be based on the two individual’s happiness together, not based on what the outside world thinks. It is much healthier for couples to discuss their happiness and problems together instead of seeking approval from outsiders on social media.
People who frequently post on social media tend to become obsessive about what their followers think, how many likes they get and the comments they receive. This obsession can consume people, individuals go to great lengths to get the perfect picture with an even more perfect caption. As a result, the obsession can negatively impact people’s lives, they may lose a connection with their friends or only do things that better their online image. I’m sure we all know someone who can’t get off their phone and is constantly monitoring their likes, followers and what other people are posting. Annoying, right?
What I am alluding to is the fact that there are many allegations, studies and theories about the connection of social media and mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and narcissism. Any mental illness can have a heavy impact on your life, friendships and relationships. However, narcissism is particularly problematic because the narcissistic individual will believe they are entitled to things in the relationship that aren’t fair and demand that their partner put them on a pedestal. Some of the unfair demands may be directly correlated to the opinions of others on social media which are grossly misrepresented to the situation and likely a derivative of groupthink. Not only is this dysfunctional behaviour harmful for the individual with narcissism, but the other partner will suffer emotionally too. Ideal relationships should be equal, both partners should treat each other fairly and with love. Issues that arise in a relationship should be addressed directly, not through social media.
Lastly, the popularity of people posting on social media about their relationships has lead to others creating unrealistic ideals of love and companionship. Since so many people are impacted by the best self concept, social media is flooded with posts about relationships and how perfect theirs is. It seems that people have forgotten what true companionship is and become short tempered with their partners when they don’t live up to their ridiculously high expectations. What people don’t see on social media is the arguments, boring days and riffs that couples go through. These events often aren’t worth mentioning on social media because they don’t align with the best self. However, having uneventful days with your significant other is not abnormal, everyday isn’t going to be enthralling. With social media, people have begun to think that love means constant happiness, giving and excitement which is not a reality. Not only that, people have forgotten the intimacy of sharing a moment with their significant other because of a skewed ideology that love means posting about your significant other on social media.
Social media in a relationship can be harmful to those that are impacted by the best self concept. That being said, social media shouldn’t be avoided like the plague in your relationship. An anniversary photo of the happy couple or changing your relationship status is harmless. What is harmful is when couples become overly concerned with their combined online image leading to unhealthy behaviour. It’s best to find your happy medium and focus on what counts, you and your significant other’s happiness together, regardless of what anyone thinks.