Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Courting in the Age of Social Media

My generation has become obsessed with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, blogging, etc. It is a fantastic thing to be able to maintain contact with our friends and catch up with old classmates, but perhaps we should consider what it is doing to our romantic relationships. There are an infinite number of angles from which to view this phenomenon but the one that intrigues me most is what it does to the get-to-know you process in the beginning of a relationship.

A person can learn more about a potential partner with a visit to his or her Facebook page than they would discover with a two weeks’ worth of dates. My blog offers a more intimate view of my inner workings than I ever reveal to people I’ve just begun dating.

Does social media hinder or help the dating process? In my view it is detrimental. The discovery period is the best part of a relationship. Social media takes the mystery out of the beginning stages and could also cause premature judgments to be passed. When a person uncovers things about another individual’s past via Facebook, Twitter, etc. it does not give that individual the opportunity to explain the myriad of circumstances that inevitably lead to the decisions they made.

One stalker prowl through my page would reveal information about my past relationships, my chosen career path, who my friends are, what I like to do in my free time and what I believe in. Why even bother talking to me for the first three weeks of what would be a relationship?

So we are once again presented with the ubiquitous dilemma: do we delete our profiles so as to protect our privacy thereby cutting us off from many of the connections we’ve nurtured through social media so as to protect the mystery within our relationships? I suppose one could always reject friendship requests from potential partners, but then this would most definitely be construed as a lack of interest. That, however, is an entirely different discussion. Ultimately there is no way around it, social media has changed the dating landscape and we are just going to have to find a way to cope.

1 comment:

  1. I have to call into question your premise that facebook tells people more about you than three weeks of conversation would. The first three weeks of dating, for most people I think, are complete bs anyway. You're putting on your best face, wearing your best clothes, on your best social behavior. Facebook is no different. People only see what you WANT them to know about you via social networking. 90 percent of communication is nonverbal; you get to know so much more about somebody just by going on a date and observing them. Facebook doesn't tell people how you treat servers at a restaurant, or whether you have an annoying laugh, or an empathic heart. It shares some pretty superficial generalities about you and your preferences, all of which you control. But as they say, the devil is in the details.

    The point of having a social networking page is ego-casting: advertising who you want people to think you are. Confession: I try to come across as much wittier and cosmopolitan in my profile than I am in real life. Nobody who read my profile would guess that I get the occasional anxiety attack, or that I like children. Those details are reserved for the people who take time to get to know me personally (and for the other readers of your blog, har har). But I'm being candid here to illustrate my point.

    Love your blog by the way. Keep up the good work!