Pixelated Love: Social media places new social pressures on couples

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For millennials, social media provides an outlet to proclaim how great their relationships are. However, sometimes too many posts about one's relationship reflects a deeper issue.  (Photo Illustration by Nolan Motis)
For millennials, social media provides an outlet to proclaim how great their relationships are. However, sometimes too many posts about one’s relationship reflects a deeper issue.
(Photo Illustration by Nolan Motis)

People who are in relationships and have access to social media are really annoying. I say that knowing full well that, in some of my past relationships, I have been one of those people. Once, I had a friend take anniversary photos for my boyfriend and me, and then I posted all of the pictures on Facebook and gleefully watched the likes and comments pour in about what a cute couple we were.

We broke up three weeks later.

Even though sometimes it’s obnoxious to see floods of posts about how happy all of your friends in relationships are, I think that the issue runs deeper than that. Sometimes, the couples that post the largest volumes of the happy pictures are in miserable real-life relationships.

I’ve hung out with couples who are so unhappy that hanging out with them became uncomfortable. But the “man crush Mondays” and “woman crush Wednesdays” were still rolling out like clockwork on their Instagram feeds. On the flip side, some happy couples I know that have been together the longest rarely say a word about each other on social media.

I think it’s interesting that couples who post about how happy and idyllic their relationship is on social media start to deceive themselves into thinking that they’re happier than they actually are.

What’s scary about social media is that it allows us to lie to ourselves about our romantic relationships. “How could I not be happy with him? We look so happy in our last Instagram picture and it received over 100 likes.”

Maybe part of the problem is that couples sometimes spend more time together taking Instagram photos and refreshing their page to see how many “likes” the photo has gained, rather than simply enjoying each other’s company.

Of course, this argument is tired by now. I’m sick of older generations telling us things like, “Kids these days don’t live in the moment,” especially since they’re oftentimes just as guilty. But the potential that these tendencies have to affect relationships that would otherwise be fulfilling is worrisome.

Our generation is in such a weird place because much of the development of social media happened while we were aging from carefree children into functioning adults.

When most millennials got into their first relationships, there was no precedent in place for whether or not to make social media posts about their relationships. We were ruled by hormones and emotions and we had this magical new way to express our feelings to a wider audience than ever before.

When you’re 15 and in love, you want to tell the world, and changing your relationship status on Facebook makes that possible. Relationships have become more about status updates than about happiness.

So, now we’re at a crossroads. Do we laugh at the way that we were acting in high school and chalk it up to youthful naivete and immaturity? Maybe it was like wrapping your arms in Silly Bandz or listening to Green Day: fun in eighth grade, but laughable now.

Or, do we accept the social media aspect as a normal, healthy part of any modern relationship? Maybe it’s our responsibility as millennials to dedicate social media attention to our significant others. Maybe it’s a newly timeless tradition: a bouquet of roses, a nice dinner out and an appreciative social media post.

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