The role that smartphones play in relationships is growing larger and larger. Everyday technological features are being added that decrease privacy and increase user suspicion. From iPhone read receipts, to it “going down in the DM’s,” it is hard to get away from the negative effects that cell phones and social media have on the relationships of our young generation.
In a research study conducted by the Psychology Department at Utica College in New York focus groups were used to survey how technology affects everyday life and relationships. Many of the participants agreed that “maintaining relationships via phone can cause ‘unnecessary drama’ and ‘issues in relationships, especially in romantic relationships, because after all, it’s not official until it’s Facebook official.”
But what is it about our cell phones that causes such a strain on romantic relationships?
For our parents’ generation, pagers and landlines were the primary means of communication. Which means, there were no petty fights over girls commenting heart-eye emoji’s under your dad’s picture or because your mom’s phone vibrated constantly during a FaceTime call. But it is 2016. Say hello to smartphones loaded with investigatory applications like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter that let you know your significant other’s every waking move and emotion.
“You see that someone watched your snaps and that they’re posting on Twitter but they haven’t texted you back, and you jump to conclusions,” asserted Chibunkem Ezenekwe, a first year, Sociology major.
“Social media gives you more and more platforms to see what someone is doing,” Ezenekwe adds. “But at the same time it’s also the idea that you never really know what someone is doing unless you’re with them. You can’t really cultivate a full opinion on someone based off of their social media account.”
Such lack of trust and necessity for immedience is a major issue for many young couples, considering how instantaneous the transfer of information can be via smartphone.
University of California, Berkeley freshman and Pre-Haas major, Cheyenne Lawrence feels that insecurity is amplified by social networks like Snapchat and Instagram because of their photo features.
“You often wonder what things are going on with your partner’s social media, like ‘why isn’t he answering a snapchat from Amanda while he is with me and why is she snapchatting him in the first place?’ because it all makes you wonder,” Lawrence stated.
Logically, trust would seem to be stronger in this age where communication is constant in personal relationships. Many people text their partners first thing in the morning, Snapchat them all day, and even fall asleep on the phone at night. But in reality, we are witnessing that technology and social media makes it more common for miscommunication to occur and a lack of trust builds into a toxic relationship.
For example, one of the students from the Utica College research group concluded that, “the thing we lose from texting is that we don’t have the ability to read the language. People emphasize what they say. You can look at something but not really understand what is being said.”
Drew Wood-Palmer, a first year Pre-Human Biology in Society major, thinks this lack of trust starts in the “talking” stage. For those of you who don’t know “talking” is the initial stage of getting acquainted with a person you are interested in, mainly through social media and direct messages. Think of it as the millennial equivalent of the courting stage and first dates of our parent’s generation.
“With Direct Messages (DMs), on both Instagram and Twitter, you have something other than text messages where people can send you personal messages,” Wood-Palmer avows. “I think the whole idea of someone not responding creates the lack of trust. We are too prideful and do not want to make ourselves accessible and vulnerable, which is the whole point of being in a relationship.”
But do we have the right to feel vulnerable? I mean, a lot of personal information can be discovered on someone’s social media profile. Or even in someone’s personal conversation with a the object of their interest.
I personally see both men and women getting “exposed” after attempting to “slide in the DMs” of someone they are interested as a joke . The advent of the screenshot has left a lot of people with hurt feelings and resentment towards those who rejected them for attention.
Some people argue that in these situations, they “should not be thirsty.” But even then, why not respectfully curve someone rather than publicly humiliating them to heighten your own self esteem?
I recently overheard a conversation between some of my peers about not being upfront through text because of the risk of things being screenshotted. Many fear that their words will end up in the recipient’s Group Message to be scrutinized by their partner’s or crush’s closest friends.
From the way the conversation went, I concluded two things: all the dirt is in the “details” and that people are very mindful of what they text because at any time you could think you are just talking to bae, but you are really talking to bae and her five closest friends.
“It all makes you wonder so much,” declared Cheyenne Lawrence. “You see on social media these pictures with captions that say ‘goals’ when in reality, the relationship isn’t perfect. Fifteen minutes ago while you were on Twitter, you just saw 5 tweets that were along the lines of ‘ladies, do not trust your dude if he he hides his phone, he’s cheating.’ So immediately, your mind starts racing.”
So how do we cease to let these smartphones and social media applications increase the lack of trust we have in relationships?
Honestly, I do not have an answer and I do not expect anyone else to because it is a case by case basis. But by being aware of the effects technology could have on our personal interactions with those we are interested in, the better chance we have to enjoy the experiences with our significant others and crushes.
We could preach all of DJ Khaled’s “Keys To Success,” all of the clichés about honesty, and all the affirmations about being willing to trust each other. But if we do not recognize the root of the problems the cycle of heartbreak, the rejection, and the nights of Drake on repeat will continue for many of us.
Watch out for the insecurity and the trust issues that lead to overreactions, assumptions, and toxicity that your favorite social media and features on your iPhone or Android may be the cause of.
And please whatever you do, try to stay out your feelings. I heard it is bad for your health!