My Thoughts On Social Media And Relationships (As Inspired By The New York Times)

Social media has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives—both personal and professional. While making “staying in touch” significantly easier, it has not enabled the same kind of connectivity as verbal communication or face-to-face communication. In our convenience-based culture, we have eliminated the need to call up our friends and ask how they are doing, because we often can get a good indication from Facebook or Twitter. Even a text here or there seems to bridge the gap. But really, it’s just not the same.

As I sit, reflect, and lament over being guilty of employing electronic communication before a phone call or meet-up, I wonder how many of my relationships would be better if I would just take the time and risk the awkward silence of a phone call, walk, or coffee date. I can honestly say that my most intimate relationships to this day are with people I speak with on the telephone or spend time with during the day, not relationships maintained with electronic communication. There is something so impersonal and risk-free about getting a “how are you” message with a limited space for a response versus being sought out, asked, and genuinely listened and related to.

I came across an article from the New York Times, ironically shared via Twitter, that sparked my interest and thoughts regarding social media and relationships. I have often vented that Social Media is killing relationships and makes true communication difficult, but have remained relatively unaffected in how I handle relationships. While I cannot say I have a lot of experience with dating, based on how my other relationships have been evaluated, we stand a far better chance of success if we interact face-to-face, via phone calls, and take time to individually invest in each other. We tend to preview our interests and gauge who he or she is based on what his or her internet profile says, what is “on (their) mind,” and the content of his or her 140 character tweets. Is that really how things should be done? There is way too much that can be filtered through when it comes to what we post online (and if the individual appears to have no filter as to what he or she is posting—FLEE…far, far away) and we can far too easily present the person we want people to see, not who we are. By the same token, on the observing end, we can easily get a false ideal of a perfect person who really does not exist. Yes, you may like their Facebook opining and see a cute face and body, but what about their obnoxious tendency to ignore someone to play on their phone, their road rage, their constant critical nature, rudeness to complete strangers, or the inability to talk about anything besides themselves? There is much more that is able to go unsaid online than be said. You can pose yourself as witty, charming, and awesome, but how much of that is real? Do you think you stand a chance as you are? Why are you not paying attention to that girl who works three cubicles down from you—because you’ve seen her humanity? Her flaws? Or has she seen yours and you think you’ve got no hope because you’re less-than-perfect?
Yes, there is risk, especially when it comes to dating. You may get shut down a time or two, and I think that risk goes up exponentially with online profiles for the aforementioned reason—you can filter through everything and post what you want everyone to know, not the things you’d prefer they not. I’m not saying that all should air their dirty laundry, but I do think that when it comes to real-life relationships, the best place to start is with those around us. That is the easiest place to invest, be invested in, and learn to love people in their humanity. You can only be so superficial for so long in real life—eventually you will be less-than perfect. THAT IS OKAY.
Guys, if you are interested in a lady, let her know. Don’t just throw the bait out there and see if she bites. It’s a surefire way to blur the lines in your relationship or to kill it before it even begins. I cannot think of a more frustrating thing from a woman’s perspective when it comes to prospective suitors than to be “baited”—and if you are doing this, STOP. You don’t have to toy with her to get her attention—what would be a much better idea is to physically walk up to her, let her know you think she is beautiful and an absolutely amazing woman, and ask if you could have the privilege to take her out. By this time, I would hope that you have taken the time to get to know her and her interests so that you can plan an endeavor that you both will enjoy while getting to know each other better on a personal level. This all takes place outside of electronic communication. I am not saying people cannot interact online or that these “find your match” sites do not work, but eventually you have to exist offline in order to develop a real-life adult relationship. These real-life adult relationships are more than hook-ups—they are prospectively life-long partnerships and deserve to be treated as such.  We have got to get past the stage of toying with the hearts and emotions of others in “risk-free relationships” and actually take a risk at the prospect of committing. I can only speak from the perspective of a woman, but dang it, I want to know that I am valued, treasured, important, worthwhile—not someone to be toyed with and easily dropped in case you feel that at some point I am disposable. You can’t just throw out bait like a “tired of being single” tweet and scoop up the first person who feels bad for you and responds. This is not a way to attract the kind of mate you actually want.
Men, if there is not a lady in your life that you want to pursue: wait. Ladies, if there is not a man in your life who sees you as valuable enough to put effort into pursuing you: wait.
I understand that I might be “old-fashioned” in my thoughts that a man should pursue a woman, that “playing marriage” without the real, legal commitment is a terrible idea, that being a stay-at-home mom is an okay way to live your life because your children are your legacy and can change the world, and that sex should be reserved for marriage, but how far has experimenting outside of these boundaries really brought us? Women pursuing men relieve men of the leadership role in relationships they are called to and set the course for your relationship; marriage is the union of two bodies and souls—obviously not something to play around with; heaven forbid that a mom choose, if circumstances allow, to spend her time investing in her children and taking care of the home instead of putting the responsibility of raising them on daycare workers and maids (shoutout to the full-time working moms who still do a fantastic job of raising their kids—you are a rare breed. Second shoutout to the single moms and dads who are working three jobs to raise their kids—you are awesome and I have the utmost in respect for you.) ; premarital sex can lead to babies, and if the relationship “doesn’t work” there are all kinds of court proceedings, child support, and other fun endeavors to undertake that you never planned.
I understand my experience dating is severely limited, but I have observed enough and been “baited” enough, only to see it for what it was, to know it is NOT something I want to play games with. The heart is the core of who we are—we need to guard what we let in, what we let out, and whom we let in.
Embrace the inherent discomfort of beginning relationships and venturing outside of your comfort zone. With the greatest risk comes the greatest reward, and an amazing life-partner is a pretty stellar reward.

“Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”
-Proverbs 19:14

The link to the article of reference: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/fashion/the-end-of-courtship.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3

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