You’re walking down St. Mark’s Place, and you see a couple bickering. Do you a) stop, stare, and listen to what they’re fighting about or b) quickly walk away? Obviously, you’re going to b) quickly walk away. At the same time, the couple probably should not be fighting about their problems on the street, especially a street like St. Mark’s Place where there is heavy people traffic. What the couple is fighting about is their business and their business only. St. Mark’s Place is now your Facebook newsfeed. As you’re scrolling through your newsfeed, you come across your friend’s Facebook status that is clearly and obviously directed to that his or her significant other. I suppose you can quickly scroll past the status, but you can’t help but read what it says. Now this private matter that should be only the couple’s business has become public; everyone can read the status, and they know exactly who it is referring to. Of course, this doesn’t only apply to when couples are having arguments on their walls. Those disgusting, saccharine wall posts that should only be shared via text message or private messaging are plastered all over our newsfeeds.
And some extremely insensitive ones (with bad grammar, I might add).
(For some more appalling couple conversations, head on over here.)
“Communication media are by definition technologies that allow people to communicate between distant locations – thus, they have always played a role in reducing the significance of physical distance (Judith Donath, “Sociable Media”)
I love social media because it gives people the opportunity to connect with people on a more intimate and personal level that would not be possible because of distance and time differences. I’ve been able to learn more about people that I never would have had it not been for Twitter or even tumblr, and some of them have become great friends of mine whom I speak with almost every day. When it comes to relationships, I have no issues with couples who share the occasional wall post or links on all different types of social media, but when it becomes the daily “I love you and I can’t live without you” wall post or subtweet, it becomes a problem. Communication and honesty are key in a relationship, but the type of communication that is PDA is not welcome on our newsfeeds, timelines, and dashboards.
“The mere fact that private information is being made very public can be the source of hurt feelings or even a sense of betrayal by the other partner (Scott H. Becker, “Yay or nay? Social Media has created a new form of PDA“).”
I’m going to use someone that I know from tumblr as an example of private information being made public. Let’s call my friend and her now ex-boyfriend Sarah and Mark. I knew from the get go that Sarah and Mark weren’t on great terms because, well, she was constantly posting on tumblr and Twitter about how unhappy she was with their relationship. Situations and personalities over three years obviously change, and with that, their relationship began to fall apart. Let me just say that I don’t know Sarah too well; we’ve texted a little bit and tweeted at each other, but other than that, I have never sat down and talked to her about her relationship. However, because of her excessive use of social media as an outlet to vent and complain about the relationship, I felt as though I was part of their drama. “Mark is doing this. Mark is seeing another girl. Why is he seeing this girl? I’m so much better than her. He told me he hated her but now they’re seeing each other?” I could go on and on about the different things that she complained about, but I don’t want to exceed the word limit. If you know how tumblr works, you know that the posts are public unless you specifically set the post to be private or have a private tumblr. You could imagine the shitstorm that her posts created. Needless to say, their relationship ended on extremely bad terms (there is so much more to this story, but I’ll spare you guys the unnecessary, overdramatic details). Private information that is put on blast by social media, especially since Sarah has a large follower base on her tumblr, causes problems that could potentially ruin relationships forever.
Here are a number of solutions that I propose for couples who can’t take their business off their social media:
Mashable has compiled a list of 9 Social Apps for Couples, which includes apps like Cupple and Between (pictured below). This app not only allows couples to message each other privately, but also allows couples share photos, send voice messages, and mark their own calendar with “important milestones, future dates, and other memos.” Instead of spamming endless amounts of pictures and dates on Facebook (minus important ones that are worth sharing such as engagements and weddings), these applications provide the opportunity for couples to share intimate details simply between the two of them. If those aren’t the perfect (but almost excessive) apps developed for couples, I don’t know any other ones (except perhaps maybe the standard text messaging applications).
This PDA bag (pictured below). Granted it may attract more attention rather than keeping whatever shenanigans private, but at least we don’t have to witness any of it happening.
Just kidding about this one. Please don’t do it.
[Links to pictures are hyperlinked to original source.]