Dating in the Digital Age: Social Media
Dating in the Digital Age: Part Two
The Social Network Minefield: Social netiquette, the peaks and pitfalls
We know how drastically the world of dating and relationships has changed since the invent and adoption of all things technological, but actually navigating and thriving in this new environment is a different matter altogether.
If you caught the first part of this series that covered sexting, you have some idea of what we’re on about. This time, we’re getting stuck into the quagmire of social networks.
Before we all became immersed in the digital scene, the dating world was a boy-meets-girl, old-school romantic sort of experience, one in which couples would approach one another in the street, in a pub, or in a club to express their interest in one another, perhaps exchanging phone numbers or making a plan to meet at a later stage.
Lovers would sit happily in each others’ company, fully engaged in conversation over dinner.
Breakups were hard, but manageable if certain locations were avoided.
Now? There’s no connecting with, or escaping one another.
Social Networking – the low down
Although it’s become a massive part of most of our social and dating lives, many folks don’t quite understand what is meant when we talk about social networks. Think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest. Anything driven by communication with other users of a website is a social network.
- The good side
Because of all of these levels on which we interact, now, the dating game has been simplified, in some great ways. Screening a potential suitor on social networks is a big one. You can usually get a good idea of who the person is, what kind of lifestyle they lead and if it suits yours from a glance at their Facebook page.
Not to mention, a quick look at whether you share mutual friends and interests makes ice breaker conversation a lot less daunting. But don’t overshare exactly how much you have come to know about them.
One of the greater positives to come out of the social networking revolution is the enforced honesty that it has brought into being. It’s really not worth the effort of extensive covering up that he would have to do in order to convince you that he isn’t married, for example. Which, however, brings us to the negative side.
- The bad side
If he or she really, really want to fool you, they will find a way.
If your relationship is quite overtly celebrated by yourself and your partner on social, you can bet that it is annoying the life out of some people. Equally, the temptation to air dirty laundry from your very own digital soapbox when a relationship ends can be tempting. Stay gracious.
Break-ups have much bigger potential to stretch out, and become more dramatic as the time passes. The passive aggressive ‘love-lost’ motivational posts can be annoying, but there is a darker side, too.
Obsession can be a slow creeping, dangerous reality if the coupling doesn’t turn out as planned. It’s easy for someone to keep tabs on previous love interests should their privacy protection, or rather lack thereof,allow it. That can be creepy at best, and life threatening – if your screening pre-relationship didn’t pick up their sociopathic tendencies – at worst.
Protect yourself and your information. Don’t let anyone see your goings on that you wouldn’t tell in person. This can be done in the privacy settings of most social networks.
When dealing with a break up, cut off contact. The only person that is affected by you sitting in the dark, scrolling through the Instagram feed or Facebook timeline of an ex is, well, you. Give yourself less opportunity to hurt yourself. Be the first to change the relationship status, and unfriend, unfollow or block if it’s become necessary.
Don’t believe everything you read, see, or like online. While social networking profiles are a great source of information, they are by no means the full reflection of the person who owns them. We show people what we want them to see online. Along those same lines, don’t go digging if you’re suspicious. It is never a good idea to compromise trust for the sake of a niggling suspicion. It’s also a pretty steep violation of personal space. Don’t swop passwords. Don’t overshare. Keep what should be personal, personal. Your friends don’t need to understand every nuance of your relationship.
Lastly, it is quite easy for a relationship to take its primary position online. Spending more time texting each other than engaging in conversation when in each others’ company, or sitting across the table from your partner, both noses illuminated by your smartphone screens is not healthy. Learn to spend time in the company of that person. It’s the only way to make a true connection.
We’ve only scratched the surface on this one, but hopefully you have a bit more insight into the potential dating peaks and pitfalls, of social networking.
Next up on our digital dating adventure is the big taboo-turned-tradition: Online Dating.