We see it in the headlines all the time, “Facebook Affecting Relationships.” For social utilities designed to bring people together there are many who have found themselves in relationship turmoil because of Facebook or things in general that they find on the internet and other sites. Dating is hard enough without the eruption of instantaneous data and information in our faces but is the internet to blame or is it us?
140 or 420 – Who Knew?
The characters that destroy. Seems a bit dramatic wouldn’t you say? Perhaps but with the ability to voice your emotions so freely and openly these days there is always the chance that what you say could hurt another. We all have our own ideas and perceptions and things said on social networks have a tendency to lack tonality but who’s at fault here? Social networks though seemingly appear as a platform to convey the trials and tribulations of our lives, where is the line? I don’t view Facebook as the diary I kept under my pillow and there are details of my life that I would never put out there but others do and I think that may be where the problem lies.
Offline Engagement – A Thing of the Past?
The great thing about social networking is conversation. This morning I asked a question on Facebook to gather the thoughts of others for this very column. It took less than a few minutes for me to really understand how several others felt about the topic of researching mates on the internet or pre-date screening on the web. I learned a lot and it was valuable, however it was planned and purposed to identify specific data. Meaning, I asked for it. Conversation is how we learn about one another and in the olden days offline conversation was the thing that carried us through the “getting to know you phase” in dating. Are people still embracing this or have we become a society that weighs what we learn on the internet more heavily than what we learn in the real world?
Online dating is an interesting phenomenon, something I discuss often and not something I personally embrace. It has it’s perks and it’s dangers. I’ve recently starting wondering however that if essentially you are meeting someone online and those initial conversations are in text that you unintentionally may develop damaging patterns early on. I’m no psychologist, but based on my own experience in one relationship where I met the person online I can tell you that this theory of mine is spot on. We had absolutely no problem communicating in text, whether instant message or email or sms..it was all good. It’s how we started and how we went through 3 years. In person, however .. I had a strong discomfort with really saying what was on my mind, that was never the case until this relationship. I found myself more and more searching for things online rather than just asking him questions face to face. The assumptions made based on my perceptions of what I found, inevitably lead to turmoil in the relationship and it wasn’t Facebook it was me. Facebook and Myspace just became the catalyst for stalking or information gathering, which is a nice way to call myself a creep. That experience however changed me, I really don’t engage in personal conversations online when dating. I know that if there is anything I am curious about or want to know .. asking the questions in person allow for a better and more meaningful connection between myself and that person. Sure texting back and forth is great but it shouldn’t replace communication in a relationship. Neither should comments on a Facebook wall or other, replace offline affection. I’ve found that most of that we see is sometimes blanketing what’s going on real life. If you have a person right next to you, tell them how you feel right then and there..it’s a more valuable share.
Safety is always a concern when it comes to online dating. You never know what you’re going to get come face time. I think it’s natural to want to do a little pre-screening prior to but there is a line and crossing it could be damaging. Predators exist and being naive about that can be damaging as well, but unless you find something criminal in nature then it’s best to just rely on initial conversations and questions while on a date or in person meeting…a “non-date” they call these days. If you want to know something, ask and if the time isn’t right to ask, hold off and wait before searching on your own. Prejudging someone based on something you see on the internet could really lead to missed opportunities based on false assumptions you may make. Listen, just because it’s easy to do these days doesn’t make it right. I could sit on the internet all day looking for dirt on someone but again assumptions sometimes lead down a not so great path.
Last I checked it was the whole basis for any relationship. If you’re starting out in a relationship on an endless fishing expedition for dirt how is that trust? Things will happen no matter what and I firmly believe that no relationship or date is a waste, it’s all a learning experience so using the excuse that you’d rather know right away than later down the line is a cop out. Social Networks are intended to be fun, engaging and informative but should not be a threat to a relationship or your dating life. I don’t believe they were intended to be an analytic dating tool or a platform for dealing with your relationship issues.
“A spokesperson for Facebook said: “It’s ridiculous to suggest that Facebook leads to divorce. Whether you’re breaking up or just getting together, Facebook is just a way to communicate, like letters, phone calls and emails. Facebook doesn’t cause divorces, people do.” – I have to agree.
Open for Discussion..
This topic presented a lot of great thoughts online earlier and I’ve asked a few questions in this column that I would love to hear from you on. Has the internet changed the game for you? Are you more of a creep these days? Do we know more from keywords and search engines then we would after 5 or 6 dates now..and is that the problem?