True Intimacy vs. Digital Intimacy

Digital advancements allow us to do what we’ve always done – find and build a meaningful relationship with another. But in this world of social media, we’ve gained a rigid control over the way in which we initiate and maintain those relationships, especially in the dating world.

We’ve replaced real kisses with kissing emojis, real laughs with quick ‘haha’ texts, and real intimacy with what appears to be a distance, digital form of communication.

This calls for a redefinition of intimacy.

How can we achieve closeness when our social media profiles highlight our good features and sweep the others under the rug? How can we judge the sincerity and fervor of our partner when most of our conversing, promising, and arguing is done over carefully-typed texts?

But by no means am I suggesting that digital intimacy can’t be true intimacy, because, if nothing else, social medias do offer us a way to stay connected to our loved ones when face-to-face communication isn’t an option. But it also allows them to ignore one another in each other’s physical presence.

Dates, dinners, parties, and most other social events give a new meaning to the word ‘social’. I see it everyday. People out at dinner, not talking but rather texting under the table, or guests at a party choosing to scroll through Instagram rather than meet new people. When did we have to start competing with an iPhone to get someone’s attention?

I’m just as guilty as they are. The process of getting to know someone by asking them questions about their likes, dislikes, hobbies, and so on has been diminished and trivialized. Why should we put in the effort to learn things about someone when those things are blatantly stated on their online profile?

Though this phenomenon alone may not seem to pose many problems, the paradigm of physical intimacy has become enveloped by the digital world. We use social media to connect at an intimate level while remaining physically disconnected.

In a world were we seem to be increasingly connected, we are isolating ourselves more than ever. Our texts and status updates tell our partner everything they need to know about how we’re feeling or how our day went. I wonder, when the phones are put down, what will be left to say?

What’s Your Status? The social implications behind your Facebook Relationship Status

With what used to require actually speaking to someone face-to-face, beginning, continuing, and ending a romantic relationship can now be achieved through a single click of a button. Updating your Facebook Relationship Status is an easy way to declare your newfound place on the dating spectrum, taking what used to be a private affair and turning it into a public announcement to be judged and commented upon.

So why do we bother?

The Facebook relationship status is a seemingly straightforward solution to a formerly ambiguous dating world. Before, individuals had to go so far as asking another person to date them. Now they can take their pick from Facebook’s provided drop-down menu of relationship statuses and just like that they’re ‘in a relationship’.

With many courtship clichés thrown out the window, the process of defining a relationship has become increasingly vague. The Facebook Relationship Status provides a tool for clarity and structure.

We’re dating. See? It’s ‘Facebook official’.

The term ‘Facebook official’ has become so ingrained in popular speech that it’s important to consider its social meaning. It goes beyond privately committing yourself to another and becomes a shout to the online world that you’re no longer romantically available.

A change in a relationship status can be a positive and healthy indication of commitment in a relationship, but it can also be a destructive mechanism within a relationship.

One moment you’re ‘in a relationship’ and the next ‘it’s complicated’? In just a few minutes, you told your significant other, as well as hundred of online viewers, that something might be wrong in your relationship.

If or when your status makes it’s next transition to ‘single,’ you’re heartbreak becomes a trivial post on someone else’s newsfeed and your left to answer to the handful of curious viewers asking what happened?

These labels that are used to define our romantic relationships create expectations for behavior and exclusivity within the relationship. When these labels are declared in a Facebook Relationship Status, those expectations are magnified and become available for public scrutiny.

Herein lies the consequence of broadcasting intimacy.