Is social media bad for relationships?

By admin
09 July 2013

Our celebrity blogger Morgan Deane Smith wonders what effect Facebook is having on relationships.

Facebook is a great pastime and a super way to keep in touch with friends and family, especially for someone like me who lives so far from home. My favourite thing about Facebook though is that it’s the best place to store all my photographs that I would never have kept if it weren’t for my Facebook page. I would have printed them and by now they would all be lost, with the number of times I’ve moved in the past decade.

Social networks are still a very new phenomenon and we are still adjusting to how they can affect our lives. So what are the positives and negatives that come with Facebook?

For “singletons”, it’s a foolproof way to find someone you like, check out all their pictures and info, gather a clear picture of them and maybe pursue something more, if you like what you see. After all Facebook was invented for the purpose of people hooking up with other people and getting a glimpse into each other’s lives by seeing all the information the other person is posting. So you could then decide after all your “research” if you wanted to contact this person or not. Great!

I once went on a date with a guy I met through Facebook, many moons ago. He added me, I accepted and after I searched through his info and pictures I agreed to have a drink with him. We had six friends in common so I thought it would be safe enough. Because I had looked through his profile I thought I had a good idea of what he was like. I met him and the date went horribly; he was nothing like his Facebook profile had portrayed and we had nothing whatsoever in common. It ended – good night, all the best! That was the end of that chapter. And that is how the dating game plays out on Facebook.

Now the other end of the scale, for someone already in a relationship, Facebook can be a menace. Arguments caused because of Facebook:

* Eg.1 – How long have you been on Facebook? It’s ridiculous; what could you be doing all this time?

* Eg.2 – Who’s this getting close to you in this pic you’ve been tagged in from last Friday night?

* Eg.3 – Who is this slutty-looking girl/beefcake guy you have on your friend list? How do you know them?

* Eg.4 – We’re in a restaurant; get off your phone. Are you on Facebook again? Might as well be here on my own!

Sound familiar?

I’ve heard these questions attached to arguments that have come up within friend circles time and time again. Social networks can be a breeding ground for trust issues, temptation and can sometimes even lead to the collapse of relationships.

There are so many guys I know whose Facebook photos are an endless stream of topless snaps, muscles flexed and stomachs tensed to the point that they look to be in serious discomfort. This to me is not attractive but the reason behind the guys posting these photos is to try to entice girls to fancy them.

Then there are the girls with snap after snap of them in teeny bikinis, with duck faces, teapot poses and shots from up above to try to make their breasts look bigger. And the men; well, they just lap it up. So they spend hours and hours scanning through these girls’ pictures and forwarding them to their friends like they were gold coins they found in an old treasure chest. While I think this can be pretty harmless to a point (and I reiterate: to a point) it is causing a lot of girls and guys to be tempted by the opposite sex while also bringing out mild stalker tendencies in a lot of people.

I would love to know: has Facebook become such a part of our generation that we actually do have the ability to be faced with all this temptation and still find the balance to “perve” but technically not do anything that is considered wrong. There has to be a risk though, somewhere, particularly if there is a partner who has a wandering eye and an untrusting personality. Surely this could be the beginning of them fixating on a person and possibly following through with contacting them with naughty intentions. And that is where the problems lie.

I have a guy friend who was in a relationship for 10 years, until Facebook came along. His partner joined it and because she was a good-looking girl and many male friend requests came her way, the temptation was too much. She hooked up with a guy, ended her 10-year relationship and ran off with what once was a complete stranger. It was horrible. People got hurt, all thanks to Facebook. *shakes head*

So I ask myself: were relationships “safer” before social networks, were we more sociable in our relationships and did we ever face so much temptation?

While the world is evolving and we’re jumping on board with each new creation, particularly in the world of the internet, we’re still only learning the consequences of broadcasting so much of ourselves on public domains and learning to deal with having to take the good with the bad.

With Facebook and Twitter we are willingly advertising every detail of our lives and putting it out there for the world to comment on . . . . and ridicule, but yet we can’t get enough. The appeal to know everything about people without us having to ask any questions clearly is something we have grown to want and love but we must be careful to not let internet connections take away from our “real” life connections.

Studies have shown the average time people spend on Facebook a day is 15,5 minutes. Anything more is considered excessive.

Everyone is on social networks now; why would you want to miss out? You wouldn’t, but the key to not letting it interfere with our healthy, happy relationships is keeping our cyberspace time down.

Too much internet is not good for your brain or your relationship. If you’re spending more time in the evenings flicking from homepage to profile to inbox to Twitter to Instagram than chatting to your partner, then you’re probably losing out on bonding time with them, which in the long term will eventually cause a problem.

Facebook is such a great creation but use it cautiously and use it respectfully. It has the ability to wangle its way into our relationships and it’s highly addictive. So be aware and try not to let it take over!

- Morgan Deane Smith

* Morgan Deane Smith is the wife of cricket star Graeme Smith

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