Relationships are a complex phenomenon. And in this digitized world, the complexity seems to have a new dimension to it.
There are different types of cyber people- those that are inherently private and don’t like to share much, those that are open and like to share because that’s who they are. The latter can be further split into those that genuinely have beautiful lives, and those that do it with the prime motive of image building.
Image building, i.e. controlling the perception of others by strategizing once posting to make sure we control what people think of us, is creating added issues in relationships. ‘How do we look on social media to the world’ has become important. We must be perceived well-‘Hot’, ‘Cool’, ‘Fun’, ’Perfect’, ‘Happy’, ‘Amazing together’ are just some perceptions we seek. There are so many relationships that are falling prey to this, leading to increased pressures in the relationship, increased cyber competition with ‘others’ and their posts, fragile ego’s, lack of real intimacy and connection, unrealistic expectations due to believing the projections of those playing the image game and the list goes on. Content marketing seems to have taken a whole new meaning here.
Relationships and people are not ONLY what they ‘post’ to be. Sometimes they are not that at all. This is very important to keep in mind to keep expectations realistic. Else we are setting us up for failure even before we have begun our relationship because no real relationship will live up to the perfection displayed on social media. While this does not in any way mean that we start washing our dirty linen in public to show the full reality of relationships, it just means we be AWARE that’s there is more to the relationship than this. That it’s just one side of the relationship. (genuine or not, is another issue altogether)
The pressures of having Whatsapp DP’s which showcase us as a couple (as it seen as a proof of love), decisions on whether the ‘last seen’ should be visible or not as both options have their perils from a relationship aspect, professing our love openly on social media as a necessity (else you don’t love your partner enough), are all new age conundrums.
Many of these couples are coming in for coaching and help. There is so much research on the loneliness within relationships today. Depression, anxiety, and loneliness is very real and around each one of us, whether in a relationship or not.
Yet, we don’t take our emotional, mental and relationship health seriously.
I believe, nothing can substitute time spent towards actually building real intimacy and the quality of the relationship, even if the world doesn’t see it. Because you are doing it for yourself and hence will be way more fulfilling that the likes one might garner. If not backed up by real solid roots in our relationships, all of these pressures will keep us spinning in a vicious loop.
Why not turn the selfie camera lens off for a while. Why not bring that lens to our relationship health for a bit. Where perceptions of others about ‘us’ are becoming so important, why not we sit face to face with each other and see what we feel about our relationship. Maybe even turn our cell phones off for a bit and open the communication line between my partner and me for genuine heartfelt conversations. Give each other our full attention.
If we keep the quality of our relationships as primary focus, focus on genuinely building an authentic, fulfilling relationship and overall life then social media is just another aspect of our lives. But if we let social media become the primary driving factor, relationships will end up just looking good but feeling empty on the inside. Let’s keep our expectations real and not base it on what we only see of others on social media. Remind yourself, that it is a small part of their day and life.
Let’s be mindful about what we are building. Our own mental and emotional health depends on it.
Remember, its not just about having the perfect photograph but about having a fulfilling life with meaningful relationships. Let our relationships look and feel as good even when no one is watching and then let what we want to share be a personal choice.
Truly where we used to end communication with ‘yours faithfully’, we have replaced it with ‘ yours digitally’. And sometimes the hard truth is ‘only digitally yours’.
Previously published on A Ray of Sunshine
Photo Credit: Getty Images