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Let’s get social: Love bytes -digital dating

As romantic ideas of hot chocolate, cuddling, movies and baking fill our heads during the holiday season, I’ve been thinking a lot about how social media is increasingly gaining a monopoly on the dating scene.

Social media is a tool that is now an accepted part of dating in the world of young adults. We “creep” on our crushes in order to learn more about them and often times the first interaction we have with our potential date happens on Facebook or another platform. Admit it, how many Facebook friends have you made simply by thinking someone was cute or intriguing and you wanted to get to know them better?

And who hasn’t had most of their first conversations and interactions with their potential date on a social networking or chat site? I can certainly say that my relationships have largely begun this way, combined with a variety of other communication methods, both face-to-face and computer mediated.

And what about digital flirting? What does it really mean to poke someone? Do you reach out to your crushes and flirt with them online? What about emoticons? Of course it’s a good idea to let someone interpret your message with a smiley face or heart. Who would ever misinterpret your true intentions?

Then we turn to actual dating sites. Though largely unfamiliar and foreign to me a few years ago, online dating is actually becoming quite normal in my eyes. As more of my friends are meeting their significant others online and it turns out to be a quite normal and healthy relationship, I am inclined to ask, “Why not?”

Social media has been a key factor in relationship maintenance, too. Skype especially has been crucial for keeping relationships alive as you can actually interact face-to-face. Other platforms keep you connected to that special someone even if you are traveling far away.

So what does it all mean? The in-person versus computer mediated communication debate is one that has been around for quite some time, but here’s my two cents: it’s important to stay current on social media and its tremendous potential but equally vital to the success of future relationships that we don’t completely substitute social media for actual conversation, interaction and dating.

I don’t mean to invalidate relationships that start online and across the world with no face-to-face communication. However I think we could all learn from putting down the phone, the laptop and the iPad and remembering that human interaction and social activities will always be more meaningful, beneficial and easy to interpret if it’s face-to-face and in person.

What do you think? Have your relationships been initiated with social media? Is the future of dating in trouble? Should we do away with face-to-face interaction completely (goodness I hope not)?

Tweet me @jtleeman, stop me in the hall, email or do whatever you have to do to perpetuate the conversation and share your opinions.

Happy holidays everyone!

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