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Facebook might kill your love life.
By Misty Thomas
As an anniversary of sorts comes to me, I think about the amount of time that my ex-boyfriend and I spent on our laptops, playing idiotic Facebook games. You see, this September will be the two year anniversary of his death. As the memories of him and of our relationship cross my mind every day when I log onto Facebook and see all of my friends playing Candy Crush, Farmville, or The Sims, I remember the song he made up. He called it "Facebook Gamers" and sang it to the tune of "Jukebox Hero" on Saturday mornings before college football. Yes, that is what he’d sing as we clicked away at these silly games. Mornings upon mornings spent side by side doing so, and then one morning, he shut his computer and said, “Let’s go get brunch. Let’s get off of our butts and do something outside! Look at us. This is not the way I want to remember our relationship.”
He was right and as I write this, I find it brutally challenging not to pull up Facebook to see what my friends are talking about. Why don’t I just send them a text or call them? We have turned into a society that no longer gets outside, that no longer makes phone calls, and that no longer writes that phone number on a napkin at a bar.
Is Facebook (and other social media) destroying our relationships? Here are some ways it might:
Reconnecting with that old flame
Facebook began as a way for people to reconnect with friends from their pasts. Without Facebook, you would not have found that middle school gym teacher who motivated you to become a coach. That college friend you missed saying goodbye to suddenly sends you a Facebook message and what a surprise! Facebook has opened up an entire realm of possibilities, with these sorts of pleasant surprises happening everyday as people find old friends on the network. However, there have been quite a few incidents of jealousy, as well.
Let's say your high school prom date finds you on Facebook. The one that got away, you think. You tell your boyfriend all about it because you're so excited to find this guy and just reconnect with a familiar face. Your boyfriend finds a post from this guy on your timeline and goes ballistic. You're convinced that your high school friend just wants to catch up, but your boyfriend thinks otherwise. You never thought that something like this could hurt your relationship, but your boyfriend doesn't see things the same way.
Social media has created a new phenomenon known as "cyber cheating." This type of cheating happens when two or more people constantly banter back and forth with each other on Facebook or Twitter. Some people misconstrue a wink or sticker on Facebook as a sign of flirting. Others may see a simple tag on Facebook as a form of flirtation. Many newer relationships are damaged by social media in this way. What seems like a completely innocent conversation via Facebook messaging to YOU might be seen as a sexual invitation by your partner. That's why it's important to keep the lines of communication open with your partner when you find old flames on Facebook. Two words: honesty and trust.
Whatever you do, don't bring your relationship drama online!
Surely, you have seen a lot of your friends post things on Facebook that are entirely too personal. A lot of younger, immature couples see Facebook as a way to air out their drama before the world. There are those moments every day when I shake my head at the silly gossip that couples post ever-so freely on Facebook. Calling someone out on Facebook or Twitter does not necessarily mean that you have accomplished anything. If you have issues with your boyfriend or girlfriend, why not talk about it face to face—or have we forgotten how to do that?
Some of us also like to vent about our significant other. We are human and, by nature, we are not perfect. We all have quirks that make people love us or incredibly annoyed by us, but it is important that we are not sharing them on a very public social network. Make sure that if you want to vent about your partner, you do so with a friend via a phone call, text, or, again, in person. Do not do it on Facebook. Your partner will see it and probably decide to end your relationship because you can't talk to them about the issues at hand.
Make sure that when you do become involved with someone, make sure that you both agree on the fact that you want to post your relationship status for the whole world to see. Your partner might not want to post it, but with valid reason. Hear him out.
Too many selfies?
Who doesn't like a good self-portrait? So many like to take a handful a day and post them all over Facebook, but how many self-portraits do you actually need in one day? You get a new bikini, so you want to take photos. You get a new pair of earrings, you get new tattoos, you get new underwear—all reasons that people find to post photos all over Facebook. What if your partner is not okay with you posting these pictures? What if you keep getting comments about how sexy you look in them, beginning the online flirting and cyber cheating that your significant other has been worried about. This could automatically turn your relationship into a bad one. Make sure that if you are in a relationship, you keep the sexy selfies to a minimum. Your partner, not complete strangers, should be seeing you in these sexy photos!
If you're a lover of vanity, perhaps you should look into making an album of self-portraits on your hard drive. Looking at yourself that much may be something that you need to handle on your own. But why get all 6,000 of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers involved? Maybe talk to a shrink instead. We all know what happened to Narcissus after all!
Step outside and smell the roses.
Social networking has brought this new sense of openness into a lot of our lives, but, in the same regard, it makes it simple for those with anxieties about themselves to be public in the privacy of their own homes. Silly how that works, eh? The next time you meet someone that you have a connection with, perhaps write your number on a napkin and ask them to call you. Perhaps the two of you can go on a date outside, in the sunlight with talking and sharing and getting know each other without a computer in front of you. Getting to know someone for who they are (and not a Facebook) seems to be the newest social media backlash trend, but people have been doing it since the dawn of time!
Social networking certainly has a future and it is important that we try to keep our personal drama and problems to ourselves, off of Facebook, for as long as Facebook is around. By all means, try what has been working for people for many years: talking out issues with one another, face to face, not in cyberspace. You do not have to be "Facebook Official" to do that now, do ya?