(Published in Femina magazine)
Social media has insidiously made its way into our lives and while it can be a boon for people looking to connect with each other; it can be a bane for lovers who do not know how to set boundaries on its usage.
Well, it may sound frivolous to even ask if social media impacts close friendships or love relationships. But for those who use social media frequently, and that’s a lot of us in here, it can have a significant effect on our feelings.
Usually, it’s usually all nice and rosy, but sometimes it can have a detrimental effect on relationships we hold dear. This is mainly because there are no set boundaries on what to do and what not to do.
Things like partners sharing passwords, snooping on each other, being vocal about whom to friend and unfriend, getting upset over comments one posted — these are just a few things that can become a big issue because social media is a public forum.
Everybody can see and hear what you have to say. So we picked a few safe zones to put yourself in, to steer clear of social media trouble.
“Today social media plays a very important role on our behaviour as we copy most of the things happening in other people’s lives. It can be either positive or negative. People tend to expect more from loved ones seeing fantasies online and also may become more critical seeing someone being perfect in the virtual world.
They may find difficulties in accepting realities of life and practical situations and perfect people. However, it can be a good influence too, if positive inputs are analysed keeping the practical aspects of one’s life in mind.
That by itself, can enhance relationships”, avers Dr Rakhi Anand, Senior consultant Psychologist, Apollo Hospital, New Delhi
GET HANDS-OFF YOUR PHONE
A date night or even a quiet evening at home where there’s supposed to be just the two of you for company usually becomes two people plus two phones.
In between talking and cuddling and spending quality time together, a lot of people think its okay to keep glancing at their phones every now and then. “It can’t hurt. Once in every five minutes if I glance at my phone, it doesn’t mean I’m not there to listen to her or pay attention. But my girlfriend always gets upset and we usually have a fight,” says Rajat Krishnamurthy, 28, a young entrepreneur based in Noida.
And usually it does always seem to be the fairer sex complaining about this. Says Nitika Sen, 37, a graphic designer who works for a media company in Connaught Place, “I try not to use my phone when I and my husband get that little time together without the kids. As it is, we are both so busy that I feel we need to make that extra effort.” She’s right.
A lot of counsellors say that the most common problem they hear of these days from clients, is how much time their partners spend on social media that could range from Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter.
And of course stories abound about how romantic interludes are becoming discussions about what happening in their social media accounts. As the joke and many whatsapp forwards too go, post lovemaking sessions that included hugs and maybe a cigarette to relax, are now accompanied by status updates and check-ins!
DIY: Make your partner feel loved. Switch off that phone!
THE PRIVATE Vs PUBLIC PARTNER
One partner is usually private whereas the other likes to go public. This can result in a lot of misunderstandings, fights and insecurities. Ask him/her whether they are okay with sharing pictures of the two of you, your family, a private event or even letting the world know what you are upto.
If you don’t care, you don’t want harmony in your relationship…that simple. So many important events like getting married, having a baby, getting a new job, winning accolades for some achievement can be announced with just a click on your phone.
And while you may enjoy doing this, your partner may not feel the same. A recently released novel When I Hit You, by author Meena Kandaswamy, also touches on the topic of freedom vs. control in relationships when both partners are not on the same page.
She talks about how her then partner threatened to burn himself if she did not get off Facebook! Talk about extremes.
DIY: Your partner and what he or she has to say about your social media behaviour is important if you share a life together.
REAL OR VIRTUAL WORLD: SAME RULES!
A lot of people behave differently when they are on social media. What they may not be able to say in person, they can do so easily on the phone because it is like a mask for our real emotions and feelings.
For those who assume a different persona on social media, it may be unhealthy and affect your relationships.
“We abide by certain social rules when we meet acquaintances, family or friends in real life. That should hold good even for the virtual world. A change in personality is harmful.
After all if you can’t say….’looking gorgeous’ to that hot picture of your neighbour, Mrs Sharma cavorting in Ibiza; you can’t say the same on social media. Our relationships and rules are not to be changed!” says Vibha Gupta, an interior designer in Delhi.
These days, a large amount of time that individuals could spend with their partners and families gets occupied by smart phones. “Meeting people or going out with their partners, can take a back seat because you end up being connected with people all the time. This level of involvement with the social media can be harmful,” says Dr. Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist, Director-Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Chairperson- Fortis National Mental Health Council.
As for whether you can trust your partner with his social media behaviour is something that you again need to set real life rules to. If you aren’t secure in your relationship, don’t expect that keeping tabs on them all the time will help.
DIY: Snooping or keeping tabs on each other by slyly checking each other’s conversations, accounts, mails, messages is a strict no-no.
Ends (Published in Femina magazine, India)