Excessive social media use may distort, harm relationships

In the past decade, social media has undoubtedly taken over as the most powerful tool technology has to offer. Social networks are constantly expanding; they are used to keep in touch with people and to update the world on what is occurring in people’s daily lives. 

Although social media can help people maintain relationships and has simplified individuals’ lives in many ways, it can be destructive when pertaining to romantic relationships. Social media can play a huge role in an individual’s interpersonal relationships. 

These platforms are typically used to publicize milestones and pictures with a significant other—and we generally let these posts determine our perception of outsiders’ relationships. Typical couple posts can, however, many times lead us to believe that their relationship is defined by pure romantic acts.

Social media can be easily utilized to construct a false reality that reflects a desired relationship. Wyoming-based writer and diversity content specialist Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez discussed the constant pressure social media puts on a relationship, according to Greatist.

“There’s some data that suggests frequent social media use has a negative correlation with levels of relationship satisfaction, and recent research has shown that individuals with multiple social media profiles often suffer from increased risk of depression,” Meadows-Fernandez said. “This is particularly common among millennials.”

Meadows-Fernandez reminds us that behind that perfect Instagram or Facebook couple’s picture, a significant amount of time has been allotted to considering every little detail. If a vast majority of time is invested in getting that perfect picture, Meadows-Fernandez questions the amount of time couples actually spend together. 

“I’ve envied the relationships I’ve seen online—you know, the really sentimental ones, where partners write long, heartfelt statuses about each other,” Meadows-Fernandez said. “But in reality, the couples ...  might be, at best, trying to make up after a bad fight or construct a reality that portrays their desired relationship.” 

It’s important to consider these things before making assumptions on the status of other people’s relationships. Social media can also breed jealousy. 

Beyond feeling the constant pressure to impress others, social media contributes to making information more easily accessible. In turn, this makes it easier to oversee a partner’s social interactions. 

Assistant professor of communication at University of Hawai’i at Manoa Robert Tokunaga has coined the term “interpersonal electronic surveillance” or “social surveillance” to define the act of monitoring current or past partners through social media. Otherwise known as creeping, IES has become very popular and can create feelings of distrust and insecurity. 

While in the moment it may seem entertaining and beneficial to constantly monitor one’s partner online, it is an unhealthy habit that can bring about feelings of uncertainty and create tension in romantic relationships. Frequently, small gestures can be overanalyzed to be much more significant than what they really are—a quick click that takes less than a second. 

We live in a society that thrives off of instant gratification, which social media easily provides. Social media has been and can be a valuable tool. At the same time, it’s important to be conscious of how much energy you are investing on social media because it can take a serious toll on the quality of your relationship.