Mixing Mobiles, Media, and Relationships

By Katelyn Wachendorf

Electronics and social media are rapidly becoming a large part of our lives. People walk around accompanied by countless “buzzes” from every kind of notification from a text message to a recent Facebook update. Most heads in coffee shops are no longer tucked into books, but into laptops, iPads, smart phones, kindles, or any other kind of electronic device. Let’s not forget the headphones blocking out the rest of the world as well. There’s no doubt we are adapting to this kind of life and that the development of high tech electronics and social media has added not only added convenience to our lives, but also given us the opportunity to be continuously connected with each other. Of course with anything however, this also comes with faults. My personal curiosity is in how it is affecting our romantic relationships.

With our ability now to talk to people anywhere in the world at any second, there seems to be an unsaid rule in romantic relationships that you must be talking to each other every minute. “You feel like you have to either constantly be with that person or be talking to them all the time,” said senior Erika Ristau. “It’s harder to be apart.” People around me are constantly glued to their phones just waiting for that next message. Half the time they aren’t even talking about anything at all because they have run out of things to talk about. I have found myself doing this, and I can’t help but think this is a little bit silly.

It’s as if we are becoming needier and worrisome. On some devices, like the iPhone, you can even tell when each message is delivered and when that person reads it. There’s something about it that says, “Oh they must be ignoring me” or “They are mad,” rather than they are just busy or need time to think.  New technology has given us the ability to find information and answers in minutes, if not seconds. We are just becoming more impatient as a society.  If we don’t receive a message back in less than five minutes we leave ourselves worried or angry. How can this be healthy? We are among the first of the generations to have high tech devices as teenagers; from our parents all the way back, people were still able to have wonderful relationships without all these things.  Now however it’s as if distance kills a relationship; if you don’t talk for two days it’s not going to work out, right?

Conclusion: Cell phones and other communication devices make us less patient and needier in our relationships.

While those ideas address texting within ourselves, what about how affects our relationships on the outside? Have you ever been hanging out with your boyfriend or girlfriend and they are glued to their phone? They say they are listening to you, right? Maybe some people are better at it, but I know for myself that I cannot read a status update and actually comprehend anything someone else is telling me at the same time.  Or how about when you are out to dinner, on a date, or just watching a movie or something and your girlfriend or boyfriend’s phone keeps going off and they keep checking it? Hello, are you here with me at all? We don’t know how to just put it away. I have to put my phone on silent and out of sight when spending time with people, otherwise if I see it light up or hear it make a sound I have a really hard time not checking it. It’s become an obstacle for us to give our full attention to one person. According to the Pew Research Center, 67% of cell phone users check their phones regularly for notifications even when they haven’t heard a ringing or noticed a vibration. That’s just ridiculous that we are that glued to our phone.

Conclusion:  Cell phones have make it difficult for us to give our boyfriend or girlfriend the time and attention they deserve.

"Are they texting each other" used by permission from Susan Sermoneta on Flickr.
“Are they texting each other” used by permission from Susan Sermoneta on Flickr.

Not only do we feel the need to be texting in some fashion every minute, but we broadcast our relationships over every media site possible.  According to 2014 research conducted by Statistics Brain, an average of 48% of Facebook users log in to their account every day. We have to be the perfect cute couple right? We crave the acceptance and attention from all our friends.  We need to hear the works “You guys are so perfect” from people.  It’s such a big deal when you can finally change your Facebook status to “in a relationship.” Don’t get me wrong, these things are fun. I too loved hearing the words from people and posting pictures of myself and my boyfriend at the time. But there’s a certain point where it’s too much and seems to affect us in negative ways.  Do we really need to post pictures of ourselves kissing to show that we care about someone else? Do we really need to write long public messages for them? Does no one value privacy and secrecy anymore? When a relationship doesn’t work out and you have to re-change your relationship status it’s awkward and I would say raises a different emotion in everyone. Then everyone knows instantly and acts differently the next time you see them. Not to mention that you are now surrounded by all your obsessive posts and pictures of your now-ex.

I really think that social media has almost made it more import to be in a relationship, and not because you even like another person a lot necessarily, but just because you don’t want to appear “alone” or “incomplete” in some way.  It’s become more important to act a certain way in your relationships, too. Ristau also said, “There’s a lot of pressure from other couples; you have to be perfect like them. Pinterest is the worst because you see all these pictures of cute couples doing cute things and you think, why don’t I do that?” I mean, who wants to be single when everyone online seems to be perfectly loved and so happy as they post pictures almost every day of them with their boyfriend or girlfriend?  Research done by Daze Info in 2013 states that over 5 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every day. There’s a special desire by most to be among the ones posting couple pictures on holidays and  going on cute dates and being able to brag about it. It honestly just makes people feel more alone and want to not be even less.

Conclusion: Social media makes being in a relationship more important.

snapchat logoNow let’s talk about pictures and apps like Snap Chat. Again, I will honestly say that I loved having pictures of my boyfriend and Snap Chatting was fun, but we were also responsible with it. People seem to reach a certain point in their relationship when they decide that sending inappropriate pictures is a good idea. It’s as if the world has adapted it as normal. You may say you really care about that person and you’ll be together forever so it’s okay, but I’m sorry, that perspective is naive. People are in relationships for years and then don’t end up together.  People break up and then show those picture to many others and then you have a seriously humiliating and possible legal problem. Why anyone wouldn’t have enough respect for themselves or others to not do these things I really don’t understand, but these apps and phones make it so easy to do these things. How would you feel if the person you were dating had pictures or had seen and sent inappropriate pictures of another person? If that doesn’t bother you, then you don’t have enough respect for yourself.

Conclusion: Apps and messaging devices are tempting and make it easy to make regretful decisions.

Lastly, we might consider media itself. Some of the things created today from movies or websites are absolutely degrading and we accept it. We accept things like looking at porn or watching violence as a normal thing that everyone takes part in and accesses at any moment. We rant about respect all the time and how we deserve it and how that is what we value most, but we don’t even respect ourselves or others. This could branch into a whole other topic, but seriously consider how this is affecting us: relationships are becoming more about pleasure and what you’re “getting” from another person rather than about how two people actually connect and care about each other.

Final Conclusion: The easy access to means for degrading ourselves is causing our relationships to be more about “making love” than actual love.