With an overwhelming increase in social media over the past decade, we are seeing some significant negative effects and drawbacks from bullying, to shaming, and myriad additional responses meant to incite followers. One of the most prevalent casualties of social media, in my opinion, is the negative effect of the declaration and maintenance of relationships on Facebook. It doesn’t take much effort to observe your surroundings and witness almost everyone passing through life with their noses buried in their various technological devices. So what are they so intent on monitoring? Chances are, they are checking in with social media; more often than not, Facebook.
So why is this have a negative effect on relationships? Take a look around you! I happen to be enjoying the company of friends at a popular craft brewery in San Diego, California, and as I looked around watching the happy faces of fellow patrons, I fell on the unhappy existence of one, sad couple. They were good looking, young, seemingly social people. However, for the approximate hour that I observed them, neither one looked up from their smart phone. This led me to wonder…does this type of neglect of each other’s partner occur in other relationships?
According to Clayton, Nagurney & Smith (2013), individuals who have a consistent presence on Facebook often neglect their partners, whether by communicating with former partners, developing jealousy through Facebook, or by constantly monitoring their partner’s actions via Facebook. Most of us can claim to be a Facebook “lurker” at one time or another, but when that lurking becomes problematic by monitoring a partner, detrimental outcomes will likely follow.
But what about the positives? Don’t we all love to post pictures of the good times we have? Well, we should be careful not to make it a competition. We’ve all heard the old adage “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Viewing the great moments, vacations and life milestones that our friends, family and acquaintances post on Facebook is not a depiction of the whole story. We should be wise to consider that, while the story being told online is fantastic, it is not the whole story, and we should not be comparing ourselves to the carefully posted moments of another relationship.
Clayton et al. (2013) conclude that “high levels of Facebook use, when mediated by Facebook-related conflict, significantly predict negative relationship outcomes (p. 720)”. It would be wise to remember that the grass is, in fact, not always greener, and sensible to consider one’s own relationship health before making relationship comparisons and disappearing into the cyber abyss.
Clayton, R. B., Nagurney, A., & Smith, J. R. (2013). Cheating, Breakup, and Divorce: Is Facebook Use to Blame? Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(10), 717-720. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0424