When the telephone came about, it changed the world by adding a network for communication. When television became a basic commodity in the home, it changed the world of news and entertainment. And when social networks emerged, it changed the way we interact with our friends.
I am not going to make blanket statements about social networking and online dating and how both changed the world, but I will say that sites like Match.com and Facebook are extensions of the world in which we’re living, and have changed the way we interact with each other. Instead of changing the game of love and friendship in a negative way, they simply make interacting with others a little easier.
Some people would say that sites like Facebook have the potential of bringing relationships to an end as fast as hitting a “dislike” button.
But we should look at places like Facebook as an extension of reality where we take things as seriously as we do while interacting with people face-to-face.
On our profiles we can tell the world what we are up to, who we’re dating, how we feel, what we believe in, what television shows we watch, what music we listen to, our political views; really, the Facebook profile consists of answers to questions that would be brought up in a casual first-time conversation offline.
Social sites also allow for friendships to be maintained and old connections rekindled, because profiles give users the opportunity of connecting with distant friends and relatives in ways they couldn’t offline. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly two-thirds of users use social networks to keep in touch with these distant friends and relatives. Also, more than half use it to connect with old friends from high school or college.
In particular, users from older generations benefit from these sites in this way as they can connect with people from their past. It brings joy to them when they find their old buddies.
Additionally, social networking can help establish romantic connections through online dating. The notion of finding a date online, once a frowned upon activity, is now more socially acceptable. The whole phenomenon of online dating is becoming so popular that Lisa Mirza Grotts blogs about online dating etiquette on the Huffington Post. Just as you should in face-to-face interactions, she cautions: “Your profile is your advertisement. Be honest from the get-go, or you will be wasting your time with unsuitable candidates.”
The same etiquette, relevant to both online dating and social networking, is applicable in real-life situations. In a casual first-time conversation, we also want to be honest. Lying to make yourself look good in front of an attractive person is not the greatest strategy for finding a partner. We are accountable for what we share online in the same way we are responsible for the information we share in our interactions with others in everyday life.
The interactions you have on the Internet may have their nuances, but the important thing is that you have the power to make those interactions in new ways thanks to technology. These developments are advancements in our capacities as human beings. It changes the way we interact with our peers without changing our physiological qualities.
We still have logic and emotion as we always had, and we can now share these two through social networks. So what are you waiting for? Get on that computer and take advantage of these tools. Just be as careful as you are in the real world.
Modern advances in communication technology and mass media have a negative effect on romantic relationships, changing the way people date, how they end relationships, and ultimately, how they view relationships.
People take relationships less seriously because of shallow access to a world-wide online dating pool as well as messages from popular media. For example, we often see movies about people hooking up or having friends with benefits instead of getting into serious, deep relationships. “No Strings Attached,” “Friends With Benefits,” “Jersey Shore,” and “The Back-up Plan” are some examples of movies and shows that present these trends.
According to an article titled “Hookups and Friends With Benefits: Is Everyone Really Just Doing It?,” published last year by Psychology Today, 78 percent of college students are engaging in hookups, which are “generally defined as casual sexual encounters that may or may not include intercourse and typically occur during a singular occasion between strangers or recently met acquaintances.”
With such constant bombardment of messages that encourage hookups and having “friends with benefits,” it is not surprising that there are high statistics of teens and young adults hooking up irresponsibly. If the hookup culture keeps developing and occurring within a misogynist and patriarchal paradigm for society, then there will be trouble in the future.
People are not only behaving based on what they are learning from the media, but also through their use of social media.
“I’m seeing that people are breaking up with each other via text message or by simply changing their Facebook status updates,” said June Kwon, director of CSUN’s Project D.A.T.E., a date/acquaintance and rape prevention program sponsored by the University Counseling Services. “If one is going to end their relationship via text message, then I’m going to assume that they do not (or did not) take their relationship seriously,” said Kwon.
People are also using social networking sites to “hook up” with people they met online, which can be very dangerous or even fatal.
Karen Rodas, administrative coordinator for the Center for Assault Treatment Services (CATS) Program of Northridge Hospital, has witnessed the negative consequences of online hookups.
“I have seen many teens and young adults come in after having been involved in a violent episode with someone they met online, via Facebook or another social network,” said Rodas.
Social networking sites are not only playing a role in breakups, but divorces as well. According to a January article in Mail Today, Emma Patel, the head of family law at Hart Scales & Hodges Solicitors, claimed that Facebook acts as a “’virtual third party’ in break-ups and that suspicious spouses have used these to spy and find evidence of flirting and even affairs, which have then led to break-ups.”
Statistics from a 2010 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers stated that two-thirds of lawyers who took the survey commented that Facebook is the “primary source” for evidence in divorce cases, followed by 15 percent from MySpace, and 5 percent from Twitter.
These facts are without a doubt evidence for the growing negative impact of technology in romantic relationships in our culture today.
This phenomenon presents several important questions about how we will live out our romantic lives. What will happen in the future if we keep going this way? Is it healthy for both men and women? Will this only hurt women, when we are already subjected to so much negativity about our sexual lives?
If media and social media do not take action to change negative portrayals and practices of relationships, then we will end up with a big problem in the future that we could have avoided in the first place.
–Ira Caminong and Naomi Ogaldez are members of the CSUN Speech and Debate team. Founded in 1968, they compete in 11 different competitive public speaking events and two types of debate. Members of the squad learn public speaking and critical thinking skills in a fun, competitive environment. For more information, contact Dr. John Kephart at email@example.com, or stop by a squad meeting on Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m. in Manzanita Hall 215.