It's been nearly two decades since Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fell in love over emails and AOL messenger chats in You've Got Mail. We've come a long way since chat rooms and messengers. The world has been introduced to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and a dozen other applications that allow us to stay connected with friends and family and meet new people. Dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Bumble have helped numerous people meet the love of their life. However, with the social media overload that is so evident, the question arises: How does social media impact our relationships, intimacy, and sexuality?
The social media bubble casts an illusion of human interaction on the user. While actions such as liking a post, reacting to a photo, commenting and (or) sharing a post might count as an interaction, in reality, it is just a tap on the screen. It's not unusual to spot a couple at dinner, texting away or scrolling their social media feed, barely talking to each other over the course of the meal. While social media has done a commendable job in connecting old friends and making new acquaintances, it has created barriers between individuals--of course through no fault of its own. Like any other piece of technology, social media isn't inherently good or bad; it all boils down to how one uses it.
Not enough time for intimate connection
Staying in touch has never been easier. Couples can remain connected 24x7, and while it might sound like a good thing, it creates a dependency on technology which cuts down on the special alone time. Reports suggest an average adult spends over two hours a day on social media platforms. That's two hours precious hours gone from a very hectic schedule of 21st-century life. This can wreak havoc in terms of intimacy if left unchecked. Minimal time spent connecting on a personal level and no heart-to-heart sets relationships up to failure.
Unfair comparison breeds contempt and insecurity
One behavior of our time is the glamorous social media image everyone wants to project. Often it's so very far from reality. However, that doesn't stop people from comparing themselves and their lifestyle to others. While some might be harmless, like 'couple goals,' others can have a diminishing effect on one's self-esteem. For instance, a photo album of someone's trip abroad can trigger feelings of jealousy and insecurity. Coupled with the fear of missing out, if not handled properly, this can quickly turn into a trip down the rabbit hole. At these moments, it is essential to stop and decide what you want from the relationship and reassess what is triggering the reaction. This has proven to help take the edge off an unwanted response.
Fading attraction towards the significant other
Spending a majority of time online and engaging more with others than your partner can have serious repercussions. Couples have reported cases of reduced libido, loss of spark in the relationship, and overall drifting away. There have been few instances of infidelity and cheating arising from similar circumstances as well.
Digital Detox is not the solution
Undergoing a social media digital detox is akin to trying paleo/keto diet or cutting carbs out from your meal. Sounds fantastic but rarely works. The answer to dealing with the drawbacks of spending way too much time on social media isn't totally cut off. It is to limit the time you are spending on it. Bring down your usage of social media bit by bit to accommodate for the special couple's time. You can start by putting your phones down during dinner, limiting your online interaction during the day to promote real-time conversation, limiting usage of social media an hour before bedtime, etc.
It is easier to blame a tool like social media for a failed relationship but understanding the core problem is much more critical. While social media has been a boon, it has a fair share of banes, and it is up to us to decide how we're going to let it affect our relationships. It all boils down to how we handle our social life, private life, as well as our life on social media. Many a time, we don’t realize the time we spend scrolling and consuming so much content that real contentment lies in effectively balancing between the three- social, private and social media.