With the integration of technology in our media-driven world, it has become the third person in modern relationships. Ways to meet potential soul mates and hookups have expanded dramatically with the popularization of Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Match, etc. The accessibility of these sites, both in terms of who can access and how is what I imagine is so appealing. But the resources that are disposed at our fingertips have become a double-edged sword because of how present they are in our lives.
While the positives of technological advancements must be taken into consideration, the negatives far outway the positives. Young adults are the most affected by and dependant on technology as it is a constant factor in their life. Self-worth and self-esteem are measured by the number of likes on a picture or shares a post gets. When paired with relationships, this kind of behavior can be detrimental to both people involved.
First, the Negatives
Technological dependencies separate the user from the real world and lead to various forms of social withdrawal and paranoia. This type of behavior constantly shows up in tv in shows like You, where technology plays a major role in assisting the main character in getting the girl at whatever cost. But while it may seem like fiction, a Havas Media study regarding millennials’ obsession with social media reports that 68% of those surveyed say they have used their social networks to check up on ex-partners. While the majority of people looking for love don’t experience extreme cases of infatuation, a substantial amount of time is spent revisiting profiles and checking for new messages.
Constantly being bombarded by trends, friends’ late night adventures and news features can easily become overwhelming but because of the interactive and accessible qualities of social media people keep coming back. A heavy social media presence is linked to mental instabilities like depression and loneliness. This link was discovered in a University of Pennsylvania study where 143 students were allotted different amounts of screen time. Those who were on their phone less had better mental health outcomes in the form of lower anxiety levels and fear of missing out.
Similar to single life in a media-driven world, couples face pressure from social media to make their life and relationship look perfect. The time spent looking for the perfect picture to post online could better be spent with the actual person. Couples who experience lower levels of relationship satisfaction may feel that posting on social media is a way to compensate for what’s lacking in real life. People can’t help but compare their own lives to those on social media as it is but it becomes even more toxic when we are exposed to different couples’ romantic milestones. The mindset that follows from comparing oneself to others leads to feelings of anxiety, resentment, and depression.
Now, the Positives
In the case of online dating, technology provides thousands of more dating options than what someone would encounter in life without technology. Additionally, people are able to filter who shows up on their feed based on their dating preferences (blondes, brunettes, age, location, etc.). Some sites utilize a personality matching algorithm to save users time and provide a more accurate pairing. These platforms also allow for easy communication without having to give out more personal information like a phone number or email address. A major selling point for online dating, and technology in general, surrounds convenience, everything can be done with the push of a button from the comfort of home.
Moderation is Key
There’s no denying that social media has wiggled its way into multiple aspects of our love lives. Moderation is key but that’s not enough to limit toxic online behavior or lower risks of self-induced depression. We have to have a conversation with ourselves, and our partners, about the true meaning behind a post or self-deprecative thought in response to seeing something online.