Social Media is the largest pandemic in the history of our world. No other disease, trend, war, movement, or influence has ever reached more people with a permanent, civilizable, impact than social media. What once was concentrated and controlled individual experiences are now boundless, shared, captures of time and space, with the potential to reach every person or thing connected to the social media system. And who isn’t connected to this system? Only a few years ago, most of the people in this world had a choice to connect or not. Today, everything is integrated together. Social media has helped evolve the Internet from webpages, games, music downloads, information and porn, to extensions of ourselves and everyone we know. Although the former is still a huge part of why we explore the Internet, the latter has changed the way we start, maintain, and finish human relationships.
There are no books, fairytales, and/or movies that teach us how to handle relationships involving social media. Frankly, the analysis of social media in relationships is and will forever be a work in progress. The evolution of social media and technology happened so fast, that from one generation to another, we transitioned from people maintaining privacy with who they were physically linked to, to the explosion of pictures, videos, news feeds, geographical check-ins, relationship status updates, tags and mobile devices which allow us to stay connected with everyone, everywhere we go. Below are some basic rules, which when followed, will allow you to adhere to a social media ethical standard abrogating any adverse or unnecessary drama which could occur with the use of such social media.
The Profile – Your profile is an extension of YOU and no one else. If someone suggests that you should have a joint Facebook, Myspace, twitter, Instagram or (Insert Social Media Account Here) tell them to go pound sand. If someone tells you to change something on your profile because they don’t like it, tell them to go pound sand too. Never do you want to find yourself in any relationship, romantic or plutonic, and have it end only to have to retake your social media presence.
Relationship Status – Unless you are in a VERY serious relationship (and VERY can’t be stressed enough) do not use social media to dictate your relationship status. The only time it would be proper changing your relationship status to anything other than single (or not having it listed at all) is if you are Married, Engaged or living with a VERY serious significant other. Anything else just reeks of drama.
Profile Pictures – Your profile pictures should represent you and you alone. Unless you are in one of those VERY serious relationships, don’t include anyone from the opposite (same) sex you are currently dating or have previously dated. Your profile pictures should show no bias and if they do, make sure it is toward someone you are going to spend a long time with.
Pictures with your Exes – Social media presents quite a few problems in the area of maintaining pictures with exes. The first problem is that if the pictures are visible within a few picture clicks, it is time to either take them down or add more pictures relating to different content to take the emphasis off of your ex. Social media sites like Facebook make a clear timeline of when the pictures were taken, so just as long as ALL of your pictures are not pictures with your exes, your current relationship should not have a problem with it and if they do, they are at fault. The second problem is the content of the pictures. If your pictures are of both of you making out in some nightclub bathroom, those should get taken down immediately. Thirdly, the picture comments may present a problem. Any pictures with overly flirtatious comments need to come down as well. No current relationship wants to see and/or read about how you liked/loved another.
Tagged Pictures – If you go out with friends or significant others and you are tagged or do the tagging of the people you are with, make sure they are appropriate to the level of the relationship you are currently in, and also appropriate for any future relationships. If you are with someone who overly tags you in everything, every day, there is definitely a problem. If you are with someone who never tags you in anything, there is definitely a problem. It is ok to promote your adventures to the world, but it isn’t ok to promote mundane crap or purposely overdo or underdo the promotions of your relationships.
Friend Requests – If you have never met the person in real life or haven’t talked to them through other means of communication for a prolonged period of time, DO NOT accept their friend request or do not ask for a friend request of someone you don’t know. It is ok to friend request someone you meet. They will choose whether to accept or not as well. Browsing someone’s profile is a great way of gauging who they are before you spend any more time with them. If you meet someone at night and get their contact info, it is socially acceptable to friend request them in the near future. Now if you are at bar, and a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend has a good-looking friend who you never really had a conversation with, it is not ok to friend request them. Never use friend requesting as friend collecting. Someone who friend requests you should be worthy of your friendship and vice versa.
Exes as friends and your Exes Friends – This is tricky. If you and your ex can handle each other’s future lives of relationships and dating, then by all means, stay friends. If this is the case, then don’t change anything with your profile and go on with your life. If you or your exes can’t handle each other’s future lives, then you must unfriend them. Before you do this, you must also see who the mutual friends between you two are and unfriend the ones loyal to them as well. Once this is done, there is no going back, so make sure the rash decision to do such a thing is supported by your knowledge that once the ex and their friends are gone, they will be gone for good or shit will become really awkward and annoying.
Social media can be used as a great tool to enhance, document, and record your relationships. You must keep in mind no matter your relationship status with someone, that person existed before you, they exist while with you, and if things don’t work out, they will exist after your relationship ends. When social media first came to the public, it was treated as a gimmick where people would sometimes portray alternate forms of themselves. Today social media represents who we are. We should use social media as extensions of ourselves to strengthen and authenticate who we are and promote who we want to be. We should never use social media as a direct extension of the world around us. Don’t confuse a friend request with actually gaining a friend, don’t confuse slight comments on the Internet as public proclamations, and don’t confuse advertising love with actual love.
PS. Anything can be created on the Internet, but nothing on the Internet is ever destroyed…so filter your content accordingly.