There’s no question that the digital world continues to fundamentally impact our behavior as human beings. Whether those impacts are good or bad, is a harder question to answer. While technology like smartphones can connect us to anyone in the world at anytime, and answer our (sometimes crazy) questions with a quick Google search, it’s that same technology that allows identity theft and cyberbullying to happen.
Particularly as social media and dating apps continue to skyrocket in popularity, we should pause and reflect on how they may be affecting our interpersonal relationships: are they helping or hurting the most important relationships in our lives?
Let’s walk through some of the biggest pros and cons about how dating apps and social media are changing our interpersonal relationships.
Could Apps Be Ruining Relationships?
Cons: Relationships Based on Shallowness and Laziness
With US consumers now spending an average of five hours on their mobile phones every day, it’s clear that our digital lives are no longer just a distraction from our “real” lives, but rather a very integral part of our “real” lives. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing in itself, but it can lead to bigger issues.
For example, many people (particularly teens and young adults) tailor their social media and dating profiles to an idealized version of themselves. Not surprisingly, they may enjoy interacting with others more through their idealized social profiles, rather than building in-person connections. Although these social profiles are only digital, the relationships built through them can elicit very real emotions.
Technology has conditioned our society to expect instant gratification in most aspects of life.
Unfortunately, when everyone is exposed to idealized versions of each other, the most common emotions that surface tend to be jealousy, lowered self-esteem, and envy. This can become a breeding ground for relationships built on competitiveness, shallowness, and insecurity. This also sets the stage for dangerous activities like cyberbullying and catfishing.
So that raises the question: why do people continue to pursue that style of online relationship? Because, the accompanying flip side to those negative emotions are extremely happy, fulfilling emotions that provide instant gratification.
Technology has conditioned our society to expect instant gratification in most aspects of life. The result? We become lazy and find ourselves “swiping right” on dating apps, basing our decisions off of shallow qualities like someone’s looks or height. We’re quick to write off anyone that has any perceived qualities we don’t like. This can actually cause depression, because deep down our gut is telling us that we’re not being thoughtful.
Pros: Bigger Communities and Opportunities
While social media and dating apps can have their pitfalls, they can also provide incredible opportunities to create meaningful, long-lasting relationships if used in the right ways.
For example, a recent report found that one in four US adults have reported moving within the last five years. With relocation more popular than ever, social media and dating apps are some of the best tools to help people:
- Stay in contact with loved ones
- Build new friendships, relationships, and integrate into new communities more easily
they can also provide incredible opportunities to create meaningful, long-lasting relationships if used in the right ways
As Recode.net points out, “There aren’t more hours in the day, but Americans are doing more things at once.” This is where social media can be helpful for people to quickly check in with their loved ones. What’s more, they can use text, video, or pictures to share what’s going on in their world, as opposed to just a phone call. This can let their loved ones have a fuller, richer picture of how life is going for them.
In terms of dating, sometimes dating apps can help us pinpoint matches that may be better suited for us. Especially for those who may not participate in many activities outside of their regular jobs, it can be very difficult meeting new people. Dating apps can give those people with busy schedules a second chance at finding love.
But, at the end of the day, all of us are responsible for the types of relationships we create through social media and dating apps. If you find yourself feeling depressed from exhibiting shallow behavior on dating apps, consider taking a break. However, if you find yourself being able to stay in touch with people across country, or developing meaningful relationships, then keep on keeping on!
Contribution by Hilary Bird
About the Author
Hilary Bird is a digital journalist who writes about the things that fascinate her the most: relationships, technology, and how they impact each other. As more and more people become more and more reliant on their tech devices, Hilary wants to help them stay safe and understand how these devices will reshape the way we communicate.