Social media has brought a lot of positive outcomes to society in general, but especially to the evolution and possibility of relationships. The ability to stay connected across distances and time zones makes it possible to be in touch and maintain relationships with loved ones and friends. With the click of a button, we can see photos and life updates via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat of those near and far. We can watch television shows and comment with total strangers via Twitter. We can know what any politician or celebrity is feeling or thinking by simply following their social media pages. We can even find love online through social media.
But social media has also a more sinister side. Unbeknownst to us, social media can make us feel depressed and inadequate about our own lives, therefore worsening our relationships with our romantic partners.
Why is this so?
Let’s take Facebook, for example. At any given moment you scroll through your feed only to see picture perfect posts from your friend and her “perfect” family enjoying a cruise. Her children are impeccably dressed and groomed. The boy’s hair is slicked back to perfection and the little sister’s bows match the flowers in her dress and her white mary jane shoes. “It’s the perfect family!” you say to yourself. Meanwhile,you’re thinking that your kids suck, that you would never be able to get your children to wear those outfits, nevermind pose together since they fight like cats and dogs and you’re pretty sure they hate each other.
Social Media May Represent a Warped Reality
Or let’s take your single friend, the one who’s always at the gym, posting pictures of her ripped body and her 6-pack tummy. She also has the luxury of traveling all the time and going out to new clubs and restaurants every weekend — or weekday! Of course, she doesn’t miss an opportunity to share with the world how fabulous her life is.
And this is my favorite: the devoted girlfriend or wife. You know who she is. It’s that friend of yours who purports to have the “perfect” relationship. She posts pictures of her and her husband and makes comments about how much they’re in love. We get to see the diamond bracelet he got her, the flowers delivered to her job on her birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day and “just because” occasions. You see this and you compare your life to hers and you think to yourself, “my life is terrible, my husband is the least romantic person in the world, I wish I had a man like hers, I hate my life.”
Social Media May Give Your FOMO
Sounds extreme? Maybe, but not really. The problem is that you are comparing your life to something that may or may not be completely true. If you are the jealous type, you suffer from Fear of Missing Out, envy, or the “grass is always greener on the other side” complex. This is a natural mentality that has existed long before social media came around.
The problem is that social media heightens your perception of the lives of others, the greener grass on the other side. Every dinner looks more romantic, every party looks more put together, every outing looks more spontaneous. Your own life seems lackluster in comparison. Social media is not only ruining your life, but social media is ruining your relationship. You feel you can never have a life as interesting, as fascinating, as captivating and exciting as the people whose posts you’re reading. This is high school all over again. You’re basically on the outside looking in at all these people living these glorious lives, while you’re spending your day doing chores with a husband who’s sitting on the couch drinking beer and watching football. Sound familiar?
Social Media May Cause Anxiety and Depression
Social media FOMO can hit you especially hard if you’re neurotic. Neurotic personalities tend to worry excessively, feel anxious most of the time, and have low self-esteem triggered by deep insecurities. This is for the people who obsessively check their Instagram and Facebook, compare posts side by side and focus on the projected lives of others more than their own. It’s an easy, tangible fixation, but a slippery slope to say the least.
What you need to realize is that these snapshots of perfection only capture a moment in your friends’ lives. You don’t know about the arguments before they left the house, how one of the children had a tantrum right before the photo was taken, and worse off, you don’t know the true relationship between that perfect couple who seem to love each other and are completely devoted to each other. So many of these posts are staged, edited or heavy filtered — both literally and figuratively.
Social Media Does Not Reflect Reality Because People Post What They Want You to See
I’ll tell you a true story. I have a friend, we’ll name her Shayla, who is in a “picture-perfect” relationship with her husband of 6 years, Rich. To see their Facebook posts, you’d think they were the perfect couple and he worships the ground she walks on. Everyone longs for a perfect relationship, just like the one Shayla has with Rich. What you don’t know is that sadly, Rich cheated on Shayla, and they are attempting to reconcile their marriage. All the posts you see are heavily exaggerated projections of what Shayla would want her relationship to be, not reality. Keep in mind that often times, it’s those who post quite frequently on social media who feel a need to prove themselves or paint a specific picture. If you’re content with your life, why would you feel the need to post everything and show people your most intimate or banal moments?
“The problem is that social media heightens your perception of the lives of others, the greener grass on the other side. Every dinner looks more romantic, every party looks more put together, every outing looks more spontaneous. Your own life seems lackluster in comparison.”
Take a Break from Social Media and Watch Your Relationship Improve
So before you fall into the depths of despair because you feel everyone is having fun and you’re not, or your man does not meet the standard of what a perfect husband or boyfriend is, I suggest you take a break from social media.
Experts say that when people unplug and disconnect, they tend to feel happier and more fulfilled. Constantly comparing your life to something that may not even be real is detrimental to your sanity, mood, and relationship. Not to mention the health benefits that come from keeping your eyeballs off that wretched computer and phone glare!
Be grateful for the life you have and understand that everyone’s lives are filled with ups and downs, excitement and doldrums, but only the good gets posted on social media. Very few people are airing their dirty laundry on those sites.
Appreciate the good times and cherish the happy moments. And next time you want to connect with your friends, pick up the phone and give them a call (not a text). Make plans to go out to dinner or just for drinks. Those are the memories you’ll remember years later — not the ones you posted online.
And as for your spouse or boyfriend who never meets up to your expectations, cut him some slack. He can’t be all that bad if he chose you and truly loves you. Just because he doesn’t live up to your unrealistic expectations based on your friends’ social media postings, doesn’t mean he’s not an honest-to-goodness keeper. Focus on the positive aspects of your relationship and build experiences together that will become memories of a lifetime and build your life story.