When I first read Jimmy’s post questioning whether Twitter had become the new relationship killer I said aloud, “Yes.” After some thought I realized that that’s not totally accurate. Like the old slogan for gun control goes, social media does not kill relationships. People kill relationships. Social Media is just one weapon that enables us to do so.
Due to my own self-focus and emotional immaturity, I never gave much thought to what sharing the inner workings of my personal life on my dating blog could do to a relationship. There were one or two very Good Men that I lost by spread eagling myself on the a blog. I said what so many bloggers say. “The right person will understand and support my writing.” Not so oddly enough, that guy never seemed to appear. I had met a lot of men during this time. Most punched out the minute they were discussed on my blog. I had actually deluded myself into believing that they either would never read it or, get this, be flattered. The ones that did get a vicarious thrill from being mentioned on a popular blog stayed around far longer than they should, compounding my dependency on oversharing.
That’s another, more personal, downside of discussing your private life publicly. You make yourself so vulnerable and raw that you’re spoon-feeding people—with not so great intentions—ammunition to use against you. Let me assure you that when that happens, and you finally connect the dots like Chazz Palminteri did in The Usual Suspects, you hate yourself for being so desperate to believe.
I’m not sure how women feel about being discussed on a blog or via Twitter or Facebook. But I do know how many men feel. Unsettled. Afraid.
That’s not the type of vulnerability that enhances a relationship. That’s the type that kills it. Whether it’s anonymous or not, few men want to be subjected to criticism from a bunch of avatars. As I said to Jimmy, it’s even worse for some women. The typical dating or relationship blog audience is heavily comprised of other females. It’s one thing for us to know a man might be talking about us with his guy friends. The thought of him sharing anything too personal with a female friend causes some of us a much deeper sense of shame and betrayal.
The point of a relationship is to have each other’s back. If you’re throwing your partner under the bus every other day via Social Media, even good naturedly, you’re chipping away at the trust and intimacy that you and they have built. There are not many men who will willingly participate in such a relationship. What men look for when choosing a partner, among other things, is whether or not that woman is “safe.” Is she someone with whom he can let down his guard without judgment and be met with nurturing and support? If she’s someone who runs to the Internet to broadcast her disappointments and frustrations, she’s considered by many men to be high risk.
There’s a reason why many dating bloggers are single and appear to live some sort of Groundhog Day inspired life, reliving every date over and over again and never getting past a certain point. It’s just a series of dramas and conflict and faux introspection. Self-awareness is non-existent. There’s little room for growth or genuine introspection when you immerse yourself in an echo chamber. Social Media has allowed us to live as one-dimensional characters in a reality TV show. When you have an audience of people agreeing with you, you tend to believe the narrative that you have created in your head. Only that storyline rarely reflects real life. Not only do your readers or followers concur with your observations and updates, but some also encourage you to continue deluding yourself for their personal enjoyment.
Something else I never considered when I was in full-on oversharing mode was that everything I said and everyone with whom I communicated was public. Shocking, right? What seemed innocent to me could be perceived as a threat. Such as “twirting” (twitter flirting) with the opposite sex. In the moment, you don’t think about who is watching. But if any of you have dated someone who asked you who that person was who was frequently liking your statuses or posting on your wall, you quickly realize that you have no control over how someone interprets these public conversations. If you don’t get a hold of it, those tiny things can spiral out of control.
In my opinion, the greatest impact that Social Media has had on relationships is that it has redefined intimacy and enabled our self-obsession. The line between personal and private has been blurred. It’s difficult to care if what you say in a Tweet bothers your partner when all you can think about is getting Re-tweeted or Liked. What used to be considered somewhat sacred is now frequently used for fodder.
It’s such a simple concept that it’s baffling how we can even try to argue it. Ready? Wait for it …
Some things are private.
Establishing healthy boundaries is one of the cornerstones of emotional intimacy. That means keeping certain things off line.