For the better part of the 23 years that I’ve been on the planet, most of my relationships have been maintained through computers and different social media sites. Gone are the days of meeting friends at the nearby park and playing tag or on the jungle gym until the street lights come on. Now – and by “now”, I’m referring to 2015 and the last decade – kids, teenagers, and adults seem to rely on building and maintaining relationships through social media sites, video games, and cellular devices.
I jumped into the modern relationship machine when I was in the seventh grade and I created my first MSN Messenger account. Remember those? Where how much you liked someone depended on how many smiley emoticons you sent?
It was on MSN Messenger that many of my relationships – both romantic and friendly – were put publicly on display for others to see. The trend of putting your boy/girlfriend’s name in your “status” blew up and was seen in almost every single conversation when you scrolled down the page.
😀 ~*~*~* I <3 YOU M@++ ~*~*~ 😀
Disclaimer: I don’t actually love Matt – I don’t even know a Matt. Little did I know – way back in 2003 – that the initiation of my MSN account would forever change the way I, and everyone else in the modern world, built and managed relationships.
Let’s just get this modern day relationship building site out of the way – online dating. Ew, there . . . I said it. I know, I know – don’t knock it ’til you try it. Well, I have tried it and it proved to be a horrible way at finding a semi-decent relationship and it never worked. Online dating, for me, wasn’t good for anything except the occasional conversation with someone until they moved onto the next “Plenty of Fish.” In general, this machine we call “dating” is a site where women and men can judge one another based on a simple photo and a small description of who they are and what they like to do. How can someone truly value you and a relationship based on a description of who you are? I personally think that every single person is worth more and is more amazing than any 140 character blurb could ever describe. Yet, online dating sites seem to be the number one way for singles to find “meaningful” relationships – and hey, sometimes it works! But if I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s not to judge a book by it’s cover – in this case, a person by their profile picture – yet that seems to be the motto of all dating sites. How can you build any relationship off of something like that?
One of the only social media sites that I have continued to use over the last decade (crazy…) is Facebook. As someone who studied media communications in university and has had the chance to work with Facebook both personally and professionally, despite the odd privacy flaw, it has stood the test of time as the most popular relationship building sites in the world. While the purpose of my Facebook account has changed over the years – there was a time where I posted a new status every few minutes – I mostly use my account to remain in contact with the friends and family members I don’t have the chance to see throughout the year. Yes, it is disappointing that sometimes at Christmas, the conversations with my cousins will begin with “So, I saw on Facebook that you . . . “, I can’t deny that Facebook has allowed me to still be a part of my family members lives digitally since I can’t be there physically. Don’t you agree?
Despite all of the benefits that Facebook has in aiding us to be in two, three, four places at once with our friends and family members, the disappointing fact is that we live in world where relationships no longer rely on and grow in face-to-face situations. Before we even meet a person, we can look them up on Facebook and “prepare” ourselves with a quick overview of who they are – or at least what we think they are based on their online selves. How are we ever going to have genuine conversations with our family members or friends? There are no surprises in life anymore. Every important life event is posted on Facebook – engagements, weddings, babies – that we no longer wait for the “Oh my gosh, I’m engaged!” phone call. Do we truly get to know a person when we meet or see them? Do we think that we already know everything there is to know about them – their likes, dislikes, past, present, future dreams – based on their Facebook?
I take back what I said about Facebook’s only flaw being their security issues – Facebook has a lot of flaws. For a site that was created to connect us all, despite time zones and distance, it has certainly disconnected us in many more ways. Recently, I’ve made a conscious effort to stop “Liking” so many of my friends posts on Facebook. Why? I want to make sure that I can genuinely talk to them about exciting things that happen in their lives when we see one another face-to-face. I want them to tell me, not Facebook. Some of my friends were shocked (which is weird…) by my choice and have a hard time understanding why I have Facebook if I don’t “Like” things. I like to think that my likes and dislikes on Facebook and other social media sites don’t determine how much I like or dislike my friends – or anyone else for that matter. Life isn’t MSN Messenger, anymore.