OPINION: The dangers of sharing your entire love life to total strangers on Instagram
You're gleefully prepping for that dreamy date night. Splayed across your bed are three possible - and gaudy - outfits. Wait, that’s a moment for the ’gram. Click. Click.
You finally head out to that fancy restaurant. The room is filled with kistch trinkets. The table is adorned with little, sparkly wine glasses and gilded cutlery. And across the walls, gilt knick-knacks splattered all over. Click. Click.
The canapé comes along — there goes yet another snap. Then the entree — you know what to do. There’s another selfie together before paying the check to capture the ambience of the place; later, you harass a total stranger for a full-body pic of the bothersome two of you cheesing under a glimmering lamppost.
All these pics are now being uploaded, in real time, on your Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok timelines. You've inundated your followers with every cheesy - and pathetically flagrant - step of your night out.
The real horror is, you didn't just do this today alone, you do it daily - when you wake up and looking all smudgy, when you catch late lunch at the local kibanda, when you're out shopping for groceries at a crammed, fetid market, when you're going to church... You name it.
'We're the perfect social media couple', you think of yourselves as the masses click on the like button and leave tens of 'couple goals' comments under your deluge of photos.
However, tens of studies have suggested that all this posting and boasting about your relationship on social media may actually be a sign — or even a cause — of trouble in paradise.
In 2019, in a survey of more than 2,000 British citizens who were then in relationships, just 10 per cent of those who regularly posted images of themselves and their partner on social media described the state of their couplehood as “very happy.”
Close to half of the couples polled— 46 per cent — who did not publish such nauseating posts said that their relationship was, in fact, a very happy one.
Britain's Jessica Small, a licensed marriage and family therapist, premarital counselor and dating coach, said; “Posts on social media can create unrealistic expectations for partners or lead them to feel that their partner is only interested in sharing how great the relationship is if it’s on public display."
Small also added that a major drawback of social media romance is that it “takes people out of the here and now. Instead of focusing on and appreciating the present moment — how good the food tastes at the restaurant, how enjoyable the movie is, how your connection with your partner is growing stronger — the priority is just crafting a perfect post for Instagram validation.”
Littering the internet with your 'happiest moments', in fact, show desperation for the public's approval of how perfect your love life really is and your own lack of confidence in the love you so proudly parade online.
Lucy Wangari, a 32-year-old human resource manager, and who’s been in a healthy relationship for over four years now, says the two of them almost never post photos of themselves or provide constant status updates of their love life on social media, and they’re happier for it.
“We have plenty of pictures of us, but they remain in our phone gallery, they adorn our walls,” says Wangari. “A certain part of your relationship should be for you; it shouldn’t be for others. You're in love with your significant other. Not the idle followers lurking in the dark hallways of Instagram.”
The clamor to parade your love life for the world provides a million loopholes - you're in danger of over-scrutiny, you cannot break up and keep it private, incase of a breakup, you may never heal in peace and privacy, the public is now automatically - and unnecessarily - invested in your business and your every move is monitored.
Basically, the public keeps tabs of the relationship for you. It's no longer the two of you now, the relationship becomes a publicly-listed company with thousands of shareholders.
If any one of you breaks even the slightest commandment in the Bible of love, your followers have a field day dog piling on you - harassing you, mocking you, sneering at you.
And then there's always the pestering question of what to do with the mushy posts after a nasty breakup — keep them up or delete them? It's always a lose-lose scenario. If you delete them, followers will definitely want to know about what happened to the relationship, perhaps at a moment when you’d rather not discuss it. And if you keep the old pics up, it’s a misrepresentation of where you really are as far as moving on is concerned.
You're almost always left with egg in the face. And this can actually lead to depressing episodes.
Kathleen Carroll, a renowned therapist, dating coach and premarital counselor, says that couples who post snapshots of their relationship online should be more introspective first.
“It’s an opportunity to turn within and ask yourself, ‘Do I feel as happy in my relationship as I’m portraying online?’” Carroll continues. “If the answer is No, you may want to focus less on posting to create fictitious outward impressions and more on tending to your relationship.”
“Social media has created a culture of comparative thinking and the increased need for external reassurance from total strangers,” she adds. “When couples post frequently about their relationship online, it's a definite sign that something is wrong somewhere and they're using the online attention as a band-aid to a terrible wound that's still bleeding terribly inside."
You're not being advised to totally hide your partner online - Just don't sicken the world with every little detail, every silly fight, every tasteless gift you get them, every senseless date you go on, every raucous chuckle they make and every time they slip and fall in the kitchen.
That stuff is meant for you. Not for us. Now, log off and go be in love. In real life.
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