Technology amplifies unhealthy relationship practices

In 2018 Tech Issue, Special Issues
(Photo illustration by Gabe Gandara / Daily Titan)

People love to point fingers, find someone to blame to make themselves feel less guilty and play victim; perhaps leaning over shoulders, making assumptions or talking to “just a friend,” but come on, everyone’s heard that Biz Markie song.

Social media, texting and dating apps might make infidelity much easier, but the problem isn’t the technology that facilitates it. The larger issue is a lack of consideration, self-esteem or trust in a relationship.

“When you text someone and say, ‘Hey honey I can’t talk right now, I’m going to a meeting,’ or ‘Miss you,’ as a text, all those little things really help strengthen a relationship, and they are easy and they take no time at all,” said David Shepard, Ph.D., professor of counseling at CSUF.

It’s all about the effort. A relationship isn’t going to flourish off of banter and slim communication. It needs to be nurtured through attention and love, even if it means a quick text saying “BRB, cracking a cold one with the boys.”

Caring about one another means going out on a couple of dates and showing that your heart beats a little faster when you’re with them. It’s not purely based off Snapchat updates that constantly remind everyone else “He’s mine, so don’t bother following him.”

“A lot of people who reported having high self-esteem, and self-concept see social media as actually a good way to maintain their relationships and also a good way to communicate their mutual identity as a couple to their friends,” said Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, CSUF assistant professor of human communications studies.

If individuals lack confidence and get jealous over every like their significant other gets on a post, they will watch their relationship slowly deteriorate.

People also shouldn’t feel the need to compare themselves to others. She liked another guy’s picture of his trip to Lake Tahoe, so what? This girl is in a relationship because she loves to be with her partner, not the one who’s paddling down a lake in a boat. Although texting and social media has its perks, it shouldn’t be the only form of connection.

“Texting can lead to miscommunication and frustration. Sometimes you are not sure if the other person is romantically interested in you. Do they just want to hang out as friends or is it more than that?” said Carter Rakovski, Ph.D., CSUF professor of sociology.

How many times have people played the waiting game? Couples question whether texting back right away seems too desperate or clingy, or whether or not texting back at all will make them seem hard to get.

Texting cuts off nonverbal communication. It’s impossible to see people’s reactions or body language, and it’s even more difficult to tell jokes or use sarcasm effectively. It is increasingly being used for intimate things such as asking people out on dates or even breaking up with one another, Rakovski said.

Texting and social media is fun, but don’t let it control the relationship. Before blaming Mark Zuckerberg, or framing technology for their own checkered behavior of not taking the righteous path, maybe it’s time for a little reevaluation. Think things through. Sometimes people have to learn to make themselves happy before making someone else’s heart flutter.

“Jealous people will always be jealous regardless of what channel,” Suwinyattichaiporn said. “It is really not the social media that is at fault, it is really the person.”

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