The Relationship Corner: Social Media Dating

I tried to avoid this article. I really did. I had started a draft months ago. I never finished it, deleted it, but here I am again. On our first dates and expectations article, I referenced the 200 dollar date topic that was brought up so much on social media, as well as the conversation about who should always pay. Today, my thoughts are just a bit different in regards to social media and dating. While social networks and dating have gone hand in hand in some way since the AOL days, the BlackPlanet days, it seems as if there's a shift. It feels like relationships are now more of a trophy to show off than something genuine.

Has social media somehow led us to be less social in dating? There is so much of talk of "sliding in the DMs", "flying out your favorite online chick", that I begin to wonder how people make out locally with dating. Do they even locally date? Are they balancing both? Who knows. While technology has evolved, and in some ways that is a good thing, we seem to be overly dependent on it these days. I, myself, am guilty of that, which sparked these thoughts. Go out to a local club or event. I wonder, do you see people socializing much? Do you see people enjoying each other's company? Do you see women taking selfies to post on Instagram and Snapchat? Do you see someone sitting down feverishly typing away on their phone? Chances are, you will see all of the above, but you will see a majority of people engulfed in self and their phone while in a public setting. That is their prerogative, sure, but before phones were so advanced, what were we doing in public events usually? Interacting, socializing, mingling. Perhaps, our fascination with social media and technology closes us off to some in person human connection, while being connected to millions of online users.

Online provides a sense of security in dating, somehow for people. When chatting with someone via DMs or texts if you've gotten beyond that point, you have time to think out your responses. You're not face to face, so you may see things that you normally wouldn't in a private one on one setting. I've seen a lot of people say that they prefer online dating because you get to know the person more beforehand, but that feels impersonal to me. Maybe my perception is skewed, but I like face to face interaction(not facetime or video chat), being able to see up close her mannerisms, her body language... It's one of those things that makes dating as intimate as it is. However, with a lot of dating that takes place via social media, it feels as if it's all impersonal anyway. I feel like this is linked to the dreadful concept of "relationship goals".

I remember one day, seeing a picture of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith hugging and kissing with the caption under it, "relationship goals". I remember looking at the picture and being confused. "Relationship Goals"? It was just a picture of two people kissing and hugging. There was no context to it. It dawned on me at this point now, that most people just want to have someone to call their own. They want someone to call their "bae" if you will(I will come back to this). It isn't so much about the actual relationship, the connection, or even the love.... It's just about the image itself. Since social media has become a dominant force in pop culture, Netflix and Pizza dates have become the quintessential Amercian home date, but why? Under the surface, the meaning of that is really just a night alone with someone you enjoy while you order food and watch a movie. That has always been a regular occurrence in relationships and dating anyway. Why are these "relationship goals" or your ideal dates? It all goes back to the image. The image that is shared throughout social media of just having someone. Having someone to do things with, have sex with, perhaps even fill a void that is missing. Granted, we are all different, but when did our emotions become so cookie cutter? So lifeless? People on social media(and offline) are forcing relationships or dating situations just to have someone there, whether it is healthy or not.

The concept of "bae" has drilled home this whole dichotomy, as nowadays, you will see people consistently reference just wanting a "bae" to have as their own. I've seen women go from having one "bae" to another "bae" the next week like it was nothing. Surely, neither situation could be solid or worth much if it flows on like that, right? Perhaps I am wrong. Maybe, people just move from person to person in genuine dating consistently, but that feels so phony in essence. There is also a flipside to that somewhat. You meet someone via online, you've been reading their posts for months, you exchange numbers, talk, but then somewhere along the line, they aren't what you think they are, and then boom.... Things change. The messy nature of social media has seen bad breakups play out, women get exposed, arguments on whichever timeline, posts back and forth, etc.... Dating via social media just seems like more risk than reward.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are social media success stories and the element of DM diving has been fun, so choose at your own risk. These are just merely observations. It feels like dating has been affected very much, and that social media has played a part. As I have stated before, there are no rules in dating, it just seems like the same central themes and behavior with relationships and dating are rehashed daily on social media and spread around. Has it aided in making dating impersonal? Are we to blame? Are we too dependent on technology? None of the above? All of the above? I would say it is a combination of all. I wish I had answers to all this, but it could possibly vary by person, with almost anything. I just hope we can fix whatever issue we have here.



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