Let’s have a real discussion for a minute. Remove the façade that we all wear in public, and have a real discussion about our relationships and the role social media has on them.
We are living in a time of social media controlling our lives by shaping the way we view ourselves and our partners.
Social media provides us with a lens for us to present ourselves to the world, a self that is perfectly molded to obtain likes, and notoriety from strangers behind their screens. Before long we can forget who we really are. We mold ourselves to fit the perfect images we see online, not noticing our true selves slipping away.
It may not always be this severe for the majority of us, but social media plays a drastic role in the way we view ourselves. We compare ourselves to the influencers selling their detox teas and hair vitamins and wonder why we are not the airbrushed perfection before us. We become dissatisfied with ourselves, forgetting that what we see is only obtainable with editing apps, excessive lighting, and hundreds of photos taken.
Now you must be wondering, what does this have to do with relationships? The perceived perfection seen on social media has created a community in which characteristics like narcissism, greed, and envy can flourish, and more importantly be encouraged. Attributes that sink so deeply into our society’s values, it now is too difficult to have a healthy relationship at any age.
We have consumed ourselves with having the perfect relationship online, that we neglect the real work. What we fail to realize however is how toxic these images of “perfect” relationships are.
It isn’t sexy or likable to post about how you and your significant other deal with communication, stress, or disagreements, unless it is accompanied with a picture of the cute little gift used to solve the issue. The ways we sell couples online are creating a sense of falsehood in young couples. Falsehoods that breed toxic behavior, because they feel their partner is not fulfilling their role in the relationship.
If you are in your first relationship, you are trying to navigate a completely different world, one where you have to compromise and work together to find solutions. If all you see on your feed is perfection, it’s hard to know if your relationship is normal. This causes isolation for a couple, leaving them unable to discuss issues in their relationship because they are not equipped with the necessary tools to deal with them.
Just as #goals relationships can be toxic, we are also bombarded from the other end of the spectrum, with images of mistrust and violence. There are countless postings about women sneaking into their boyfriends’ phones to see whom they are talking to, or the lengths men go to hide their phones. All of this is played out for laughs. Why do we choose to laugh at this? Why do we make an absurdity out of trust issues and treat major relationship problems like they are something we should aspire to?
The representations of relationships on social media have created a false binary of toxic behaviors deemed normal. They create an obscured image of what a relationship should look like, and leave us questioning ourselves and what we should be looking for in our partners.
Your significant other may not create you a life-size portrait of your favorite picture of the two of you out of marbles, but that does not mean you are not happy. Are you happy together? Do you feel respected? Is there trust? How is your communication? These core principles are the foundations of a healthy relationship.
As technology becomes increasingly more available to us, we have to take a step back and question if our relationship with social media is healthy for our lived relationships. We have to understand the projected images that flow across our screens are toxic caricatures of real life. Because while a picture might be pretty, the backstory is often ugly.
To learn more about SCCADVASA and their advocacy, awareness, education and prevention initiatives across our state, or to find your local domestic violence and sexual assault organization in your community, call 803-256-2900 or visit them online at sccadvasa.org.