Editor’s note: To read the opposing viewpoint, click here.
I hear it all the time, “social media ruins relationships.” I’ll agree that social media can create issues for couples that perhaps our parents’ generation never had to deal with, but I disagree with the notion that social media automatically dooms relationships. Instead of “ruining relationships,” I think social media is a valuable tool to bring people together and, if used correctly, actually can enhance your relationship.
I am going to start my defense of social media with a story.
“Alex Dardas, from the second i saw you in your rayban glasses i wanted you. you’re too cute to pass up!! I’d be good to you #givemeachance”
This summer I worked for MSU’s Academic Orientation Program. On our first day, employees were put into groups and assigned with the mind-numbing task of assembling thousands of bags of orientation materials that would later be distributed to students attending the program. Each bag, our supervisor droned, must be filled with exactly three magnets, two pencils, a calendar, blah, blah, blah.
Fortunately for me, the group I was placed in for this tedious assignment contained a girl named Cayden Royce that I managed to strike up a conversation with.
For close to five hours, Cayden and I talked, joked and complained with each other while mindlessly counting pencils and sorting magnets. Despite the boring task, I left work that day in a great mood.
Determined to stay connected with her, I quickly looked Cayden up on Facebook and was delighted to see that she was single. I’ll admit I did a little “Facebook stalking,” looking at pictures and reading some recent statuses. But can you really blame me? I was interested!
Even though it’s not a substitute for personal, face-to-face interaction, social media is a great way to at least start to connect with people. Not to sound like the creepy eHarmony guy, but compatibility really is everything in dating. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites allow us to gauge that compatibility in a unique way.
Our “likes,” “hashtags” and “retweets” say something about us. When you send a tweet, post a status or share a picture, you are broadcasting information to the world. Although this kind of interaction is both impersonal and superficial, it can be really beneficial in at least beginning to get to know someone you are interested in dating.
Going back to my story, a couple of days after meeting Cayden, I saw my name appear on the popular Twitter page “MSU Crushes.”
Turns out I wasn’t the only one who was interested. Despite my rugged good looks, as evident in my stunning State News mug shot (that’s called sarcasm), I am pretty shy when it comes to looking for relationships.
Knowing that Cayden had a mutual interest helped bypass what could have been an uneventful few weeks of awkward small talk, indecision and missed opportunities. We went on our first date a couple of days after that tweet and we’ve been together since then.
Even though she might have some negative opinions about social media in relationships, the lovely columnist writing the opposing viewpoint on this issue cannot deny the role it played in our relationship.
Instead of taking the overly pessimistic view that social media “ruins relationships,” we should learn how to use these sites with maturity. Sending your significant other a funny link or posting a picture together can show that you are thinking about them. Unlike gushy, paragraph-long love letters or tacky make-out photos, these kinds of social media interactions won’t irritate your friends and followers and demonstrate a healthy, caring, mature relationship.
Be cognizant of the fact that your actions on social media can be misinterpreted and try to be aware of how your tweets, statuses and pictures could make your girlfriend or boyfriend feel if misunderstood.
Most importantly, communicate directly, one-on-one, face-to-face, rather trying to express your feelings in an impersonal and public domain mostly inhabited by uninterested strangers. If used properly, social media does not have to “ruin relationships,” and who knows, it just might find you one too.
Alex Dardas is an international relations and journalism junior. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.