These days, social media may serve as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the social networking world brings you a variety of information. That certainly can aid in the progression of learning about someone, whether it’s links to articles they might enjoy reading or general musings about life’s happenings, I sometimes peruse profiles to garner more knowledge about a guy I may be interested in.
Yet, isn’t there also something to be said for not wanting to know it all right away?
Is social media eliminating elements of intrigue and mystery? And what if we see particular photos, status updates, tweets, or blog posts that negatively affect our view of the individual? Are we judging their online activity too quickly?
“I’ve been surprised at what a real impact Facebook has on romantic relationships,” Galena Rhoades, clinical psychologist at the University of Denver, said in Allison McCann’s BuzzFeed article, How Facebook Ruined Dating (And Breaking Up Too). “And I do think Facebook is playing a bigger role in relationship formation and relationship disillusions.”
McCann’s post highlights the little phenomenon people like to call “Facebook stalking,” when it comes to possible dates. While earlier research pinpointed this behavior as obstructive or possibly problematic, studies have now illustrated that the ‘Facebook stalking’ approach is used “to reduce some of the uncertainty in relationships.”
However, don’t we also thrive on uncertainty as an enjoyable part of talking to someone new? The process of discovering more about the other person, as you continue to spend additional time with him or her, is what propels the relationship forward, right?
“One of the more interesting things that I find is how social media might help you to discover things about another person that perhaps you would have found out later in time if the interactions were purely in person,” Ashley Knox, MSW, said.
“Some people are more comfortable revealing things about themselves online, because it may be easier, and also, it has become the thing to do online these days. Online, you get frequent updates on what people are doing, thinking, and feeling, whereas in person people tend to divulge more about themselves once knowing a person better and after having built up trust.”
To embellish that thought, let’s even say that there are ‘red flags’ on social media networks, discouraging you from the desire to become involved. Those same signs that you’re wondering about will surface in person as he or she opens up, lets you in, and shares. Plus, you’ll be able to receive a much more accurate reading of the person, way beyond various postings on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr.
This issue isn’t exactly black or white — it incorporates shades of grey. I may regard glimpses of online insight as beneficial, and I may be cautious if I see something posted that’s unsettling. Nevertheless, I’d hope that social media wouldn’t prevent me from exploring (in non-digital life) for further understanding.
I know technology is rapidly advancing, becoming a prominent tool in our day-to-day lives, but maybe these sites don’t have to have that power over us just yet.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 May 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Suval, L. (2013). Dating and the Impact of Social Media. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 21, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/05/11/dating-and-the-impact-of-social-media/