Maintaining Your Dating Sanity in the Age of Social Media
Imagine turning on your computer and going to Facebook to update your status and read a few status updates from friends and THERE IT IS…the red “1” on top of the friend request icon. You click on it only to discover that it is a request from an ex that you had a bad break up with over five years ago. What do you do? For the moment you ignore it to make a decision on whether or not to accept the request and just start reading friend’s status’ and going about your normal Facebook routine. At this point though, there are so many things going through your mind about that relationship and how it left a bad taste in your mouth. Suddenly your eye is drawn to the inbox icon where there is another illuminated red “1”. Now you start getting butterflies because you wonder whether it will be a message from your ex. You click on the icon and see you your ex’s name and now you have a full on anxiety attack and begin pondering whether to click the name or not. Of course you can’t resist because you really want to know what they want, so you take a deep breath and click on the inbox message that reads: “I hope all is well with you and your family. I was just thinking about you and I hope you don’t hate me.” How the hell are you supposed to respond to that? You’ve been waiting for over 5 years to get a bunch of stuff off of your chest about the relationship if you ever had a chance to talk to them again but you’ve since moved on and don’t really want to give them the satisfaction and can’t believe how they set you up with this inbox because you would look crazy sending them hate mail back after such a cordial inquiry. This is too much to handle right now, an innocent hello from an ex is ruining the rest of your day.
Social media has changed the dynamic on dating tremendously. It is truly a gift and a curse because in one instance you can reconnect with people but in another you can lose some as well. Social media can cause people to go insane when they are in relationships because people put too much stock into what is being posted on there. There are times when people break-up over relationship status on Facebook. You think you are in a solid relationship and then you go on Facebook and your significant other has changed their relationship status to “single” or “it’s complicated”. Social Media makes your life accessible to the world and often there is too much disclosure, particularly around relationship discussions. Social Media also makes finding you and uncovering your life very easy because these days, everyone has a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account. Posting on these sites also makes it easy for people to take your comments and the comments of others out of context and get you accused of things that you aren’t really doing. We will explore the three main reason that your sanity can get compromised when you are using Social Media.
Too Much Disclosure
How many times have you gone on Facebook or Twitter and read status updates or tweets about some extremely intimate details of someone’s relationship? I’m not talking about surface comments like, “Date night with my boo was fun”. I’m talking about too much information like, “Last night was the best sex I’ve ever had and my man is hung like a horse.” These types of comments open up a Pandora’s box. If you are “friends” with hundreds or even thousands of people, you are giving that “thirsty” follower a reason to go after your man. There are people who follow you or request you as friends just to find out what is going on in your relationship believe it or not. Never talk about what is going on in your relationship publicly on social media because people tend to use that against you. I’ve seen an instance where a woman’s friend was using Facebook to keep tabs on what she was doing with her recent ex-boyfriend because her friend started sleeping with him after they broke up. The status updates allowed her friend to try to convince her to leave him alone because he was no good for her so that she could keep him for herself.
Another instance of too much disclosure is “relationship status” change. This is becoming popular for people to play around with this feature going in and out of relationships and fake engagements. Strangely, divorcing people over Facebook has become popular. Changing of relationship status without forewarning your partner has become much like the scene in Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married Too?”, when Janet Jackson announced that she and Malik Yoba were divorcing but he was totally clueless. It is very inappropriate to use social media to let your partner know that you want a divorce or to end the relationship. Communication IN PRIVATE on this subject is the key because it is totally disrespectful to do it on Facebook, Twitter or by making a break-up video on YouTube.
Lastly, when you are single and looking for a mate, be careful of the things you say on social media. No one will take you seriously if all of your postings are about how many people you slept with, how drunk you always are or how much you hate your child’s deadbeat parent. Social media gives people a lot of insight on your life and they can put the pieces together to see what kind of person you really are. If the things you are talking about on social media has no substance, your dating stocks can begin to plummet if you are the type to “friend” or “follow” everybody you meet. Be strategic about accepting friend requests from people you just met and are interested in dating. Are you really ready for them to see those scandalous pictures of you at the strip club, with your ex or you upside down over a keg at a frat party? Clean all of that up before you go accepting them into your social media circle unless you just don’t care how much they know about your past. There is much to be interpreted in a photo.
Doing the Research
Social media is an excellent way to research people who you meet. It used to be a time when running a “background check” was hard to do without paying but now you can just “Google” people and you can find out if they have any social media accounts. It is very easy to meet someone and want to know more about them so you go on Facebook to see if they have an account. If they do, you pray that it is not private so that you can see at least their profile. You can find out where people work, went to school, if they met are married, in relationships or have kids and even see pictures as proof just by checking social media sites. There is nothing wrong with checking social media for a background check. There IS something wrong when you are using social media to stalk people. Social media stalkers are those people who get fixated on a person and like or comment on their every status update, comment on every picture posted and stalk their twitter timeline. These people are trying to establish a dominant presence on your social media networks to create a suspicion amongst other followers or friends that you might be dating them by making hard to interpret comments.
It’s easy to get bored and start to Google ex’s. We’ve all done it, including myself. You don’t really care about them or what they’re doing but social media makes it easy to find out what has become of their life. Something inside of you secretly hopes that they fell off in the looks department or married someone ugly and when this is the case, you feel a sense of satisfaction. Be careful though, doing this can cause old feelings to resurface when you see their picture on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook and they look amazing and you find out that they are single and still living in the area. You could be motivated to send them a little note to say hello and ring a bell that can’t be stopped. Now you’ve opened up a line of communication with someone in your past and if you’re in a relationship it can be unhealthy to start rehashing old memories with a lost love. If you’re single, rejection could be a possibility if you reach out to them with a friendly hello. They may not want to be bothered and still feel wounded or they could actually be in a relationship, in which case beware of their significant other sending you a “get lost” message. I don’t think there is anything wrong with “friending” an ex but if one or both of you are in a relationship, your significant others may have an issue with the two of you communicating. Consider this before you do it.
Taking Things Out of Context
It is very easy to take things out of context that are posted on social media sites. You can’t really check somebody’s temperature (so to speak) through the words on the computer. There was an instance when a woman posted something on my husband’s Facebook wall about how she couldn’t wait to see him. Now if I was insecure or didn’t know what was going on with him, I might have snapped and commented on her post and accused him of cheating. I just happened to know that his Homecoming weekend was approaching and he was selling shirts and tickets to a party that was in high demand. There are only 140 characters possible on twitter so reading an abbreviated tweet can be misleading if you are the type to always jump to cheating conclusions. Posting on Facebook walls are often brief and unassuming but can be taken out of context when outsiders who are not in the conversation reads the posting. Be careful not to blow these things out of proportion because often times they are innocent. Do recognize that sometimes there is a cause for concern when postings on YOUR man’s wall are clear and obvious violations like, “Last night was the best sex I’ve ever had and you are hung like a horse.”
Social media is great for connecting with people whom you would otherwise never talk to without it. The one-on-one personal element of communication has been taken out of society with the invention of social media. We now have more access to the private life of people than we ever had. We know when celebrities are hooking up and breaking up just by reading their tweets. We can find out who is “in a relationship” or “single” by status updates. People have to start to learn to keep their private lives private and not give the public so much insight into their lives. Just remember to use these sites responsibly, otherwise they will drive you insane!