Without question, the prevalence of social media has changed the way our society communicates, especially when it comes to personal relationships and marriage. We spend our time locked into a screen, we give and receive affirmation through the click of a button, and we have a larger sphere of connection than ever before.
Technology’s influence on society is deeper and wider than at any other time in history, and so it’s a given that its influence will touch the marriage relationship, as well.
It’s important to know the potential pitfalls of social media on a marriage so that a couple can be diligent in avoiding them together. Below we’ll share seven dangers of social media, with a little insight on wise online behavior.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS THE COMPARISON GAME
When we spend time looking at rosy images of couples on Instagram or scrolling through smiley photos on Facebook, our view of “normal” is distorted. Online snapshots that only show the idyllic moments in a marriage inevitably cause us to wrestle with great dissatisfaction about the ways our own relationship isn’t measuring up. It’s easy for comparison lies to slip into our brains, whispering that our own marriage is inadequate. This type of comparison fosters deep disappointment, sets an unrealistic standard for what marriage should be, and causes us to either blame ourselves or our spouse for the inability to be as “perfect” as these fake digital personas.
2. OVERSHARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA DIMINISHES INTIMACY
Before social media, events that happened between a husband and a wife were intimate. That fight, that kiss, that moment…was private and sacred. Now, the societal norm–especially for younger generations–is to announce everything for all the world to see. Through Facebook status updates and prolific blog followings, hundreds of people are aware of matters that used to be held confidential by two. Sometimes, but not always, secrets create a special connection and fresh shared bond. Guarding those sweet moments (or those hard moments!) and protecting against oversharing ensures that intimacy is not diluted.
3. PARTNERSHIP IN DAILY ROUTINE DECREASES
It’s said that routine–ritual, per se–is an important part of any successful person’s day. The same goes for success in marriage. A daily routine together, whether it’s coffee in the morning or getting ready for bed together at night, is a key way to build consistency and partnership in the “small things” in life. Studies show, though, that 80% of people reach for their phones first thing in the morning and peruse them again right before going to sleep. These are key times of the day for ritual for couples, but significance in that routine requires full presence of mind and heart. Its value is decreased when interrupted by online shouts from the outside world.
4. THE BATTLE FOR TIME TOGETHER… BECOMES A BIGGER BATTLE
It’s absolutely true: social media sucks up time. The average person spends more than three hours a day on his or her mobile device. In a marriage, where the fight for time together is forever real in our already busy world, putting hours toward a screen is nothing less than detrimental for most couples.
5. COMMUNICATION THROUGH A SCREEN BECOMES THE STANDARD
Screen to screen communication has become a cultural norm, and that behavior can quickly infiltrate marriage communication. Texting trumps face-to-face talking; email takes the place of little notes; we FaceTime and call it quality time. The standard and expectation for truly strong and deep communication is substantially weakened in today’s society.
6. TRUE VALIDATION IS MISUNDERSTOOD
Whether we realize it or not, our hearts and brains respond to online affirmation. It’s all too easy for our worth to be validated through “likes” and “shares” (usually subconsciously), and our minds become accustomed to these small spikes of stimulation and feel-good emotions. The brain chemicals linked to this online activity are real, and inevitably, Internet-based validation taints our perception of true validation in marriage.
7. HUGE SPHERES OF CONNECTION SPREAD EMOTIONAL ENERGY THIN
More than ever before, we have the opportunity to communicate with friends and acquaintances from every walk of like. Third grade best friend, college professor, old babysitter–the pressure to “keep up with everyone” is massive. Technology is a gift, but also a curse. When we are emotionally invested in so many people, the energy we have for a spouse becomes spread thin and severely diminished.
8. SET SOCIAL MEDIA BOUNDARIES TOGETHER
Social media can be dangerous territory, and it’s important to understand the pitfalls and discuss with your spouse (not over email or Twitter or text…face to face!) what wise online behavior looks like for you two together. The world of digital communication is not inherently bad; there are certainly pros to today’s technology. However, be aware of the risks. Be mindful of where social media might erode the richness of a healthy marriage: in expectations; in time together; in giving and receiving true validation. Protecting your marriage within today’s social media world will prepare you to be better guarded against whatever tomorrow’s technology brings.
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