Arguably the most popular forms of modern technology are text messaging and the use of social media. Said technologies have become such a vital part of what society considers a normal life, that it seems that despite their virtual nature, they have managed to supersede our reality. This seems to be occurring most notably in the form of the building and development of relationships. In a gradual, but very noticeable process, the concept of a relationship has become just as, if not more, recognised and accepted in the online world in comparison to what is real.
Would it not be considered unusual if a boyfriend and girlfriend didn’t follow each other on Twitter? Is it not customary to post Instagrams and Snapchat stories of you and your friends each time you’re out socially? It seems that a relationship, something that was once only a physical, emotional and mental entity has become completely virtual, perhaps even prosthetic, compared to the days without social media. The idea of having a relationship, whether romantically or otherwise, has been introduced to the need to confirm such a fact that said relationship exists by using online platforms. Without that confirmation, nobody would know of your updates on your love and friendship statuses – and for some, that is simply not an option.
If a couple didn’t post a selfie online together for the first time, the people that don’t see them in person frequently would never know they were together. Similarly, if the couple in question change their Facebook statuses from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship’, suddenly their love life becomes official for the online community to witness – everything becomes everybody’s business and suddenly the relationship is universally accepted to exist. The idea that a romantic relationship, something that was once considered so real and physically tangible, now holding more importance in the online world, is a really scary thought.
Texting is also a fairly modern introduction to relationships that has completely changed their dynamic. Watch any romantic film around in the 1950s and there’s no chance of the female protagonist proclaiming “ugh why hasn’t he texted me first? I texted him first last time! I can’t look desperate”. This is a problem that wouldn’t exist if texting didn’t exist. We’ve probably all known someone who has been involved in an argument because the other person didn’t text back fast enough, or committed what has become the unforgivable crime – reading and ignoring the message. This is also a fairly new problem that mankind have been introduced to, as instant messaging applications often include the feature of seeing when the recipient has read the message. This act has become something considered so rude and inconsiderate, that it has the ability to destroy relationships in extreme circumstances. Damn you, advanced technology.
There’s no denying that texting is an incredible piece of technology that certainly serves a vital purpose, but it would definitely be interesting to see how fewer relationships would suffer if it was removed. It is near impossible to convey tone of voice and expression, and (no matter how many emojis you use) it’s much harder to really project how you feel compared to using the spoken word. Why then, are we using this technology in a legitimate attempt to build on relationships?
So, are the people that we ‘bond’ with online really our friends? The virtual me and the real me are unarguably different, and the same I’m sure goes for most of my generation. We put forward online what we want people to see, how we want to be portrayed – so how on earth can relationships develop from these falsities? Without these digital amenities, we would have no choice but to let people judge us purely on physical and vocal attributes that we have to convey in real life situations. It seems futile to argue against the fact that better, more genuine relationships would stem from this.
We might as well walk around as robots, with our real faces covered by a screen displaying our Instagram profiles, because that is essentially how everyone online sees us. The human race has become virtual, growing virtual relationships with others.
In short; texting and social media – that which has created fabricated online versions of ourselves, is being directly linked to the emotional and intimate action of developing relationships.Though they logically should not go together – they do, millions of times over, all around the world without question.
So, before you ask someone out on a date via text, or attempt to prove you have friends by Snapchatting at a party, consider how you would do such things without these modern technologies. Removing these technologies will never happen, and trying to do so would be pointless – but if we could have genuine, real, honest relationships without them, I wonder why we don’t remove them ourselves. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go and reply to my iMessages.
Words by Hannah Campbell