By Gwen Soriano, Feb. 21, 2023

Picture this: you’ve just joined the latest dating app that introduces you to singles in your area. You can match with a certain number of users a day, so you get to swiping, yet you run into an issue — you just can’t get yourself to match with anyone. You swipe and swipe, giving each user a reason that they’re just not “dating material” in your eyes.

When you do find someone attractive, you eventually find at least one flaw while investigating all of their social media accounts. You tell yourself that maybe your standards have grown over the years, or maybe you’re just not attracted to the locals in your city. Either way, it’s looking like you’re going to be single for a little while longer.

Now picture this: you’re living in a time where the internet is nonexistent. No phones, no World Wide Web and no social media. You strike up a conversation with someone at your local coffee shop. You’re slightly attracted to them and the more they talk, the more you see the possibility of a non-platonic connection developing.

There’s no virtual profile you can view with all of their personal information, no technology to create communication complications, and no guarantee that you’ll meet another person like them again. There is just the momentary pleasure of a face-to-face conversation.

Lauren Wong | The Poly Post

The convenience of the internet has created a universally accessible mode of never-ending information on just about everything, including a vast array of potential partners. Like kids in a candy shop, new generations are being introduced to an endless amount of dateable singles via social media and are realizing just how difficult it can be to navigate.

The lighter result of this promotes mere indecisiveness in searching singles. The heavier effects of a social media-dependent society include a new culture that prioritizes inauthenticity, avoidance and temporary happiness within the modern dating scene.

Just last year, Facebook revealed that it was forced to delete 1.3 billion fake accounts within a three-month span. In a social media world, the issue of computer-generated bot accounts and catfishes arises. Yet, isn’t it tough to blame them? The internet provides the option to fabricate an online presence into virtually anybody desired. With a balanced mix of increased judgment and limiting self-insecurities, social media invites a bunch of liars who are just trying to be better versions of themselves online.

Social media platforms have become breeding grounds for new things to be insecure about, in which we voluntarily follow users that get paid to display better lives than we possess. We are constantly fed virtually perfect couples online, which some may even venture to identify as “relationship goals.” The standard for a thriving relationship in today’s age is determined by a couple’s social media presence, which can raise some questions and external pressure.

“Why doesn’t my boyfriend post me on Instagram?”

“Is it because he’s just not a social media guy, or is he ashamed of me/our relationship?”

“Did you see the flowers Jenny’s boyfriend gave her on her Instagram story? Why doesn’t my boyfriend get me flowers?”

With constant exposure to the filtered lives of seemingly happy individuals online, naturally, it makes people reevaluate their lives and actions. Just take a look at the idea of “Snapchat streaks,” which is the app’s aspect that counts the consecutive amount of times two users have sent each other a photo or video. This Snapchat feature was built to encourage consistent communication and to view just how often users exchange chats between one another.

I used to keep a ‘Snapchat streak’ with my middle school best friend that was over 400 days long. It got to a point where we’d rarely hang out anymore, but we’d still send each other pictures of black screens in order to maintain our streak. What started as a harmless app feature has turned into a virtual competition of counterfeit intimacy.

Not only does the internet invite inauthenticity from its users, but it also encourages quite the opposite: a harsh truth. If a friend or acquaintance has ever complained about someone they were romantically involved with that cut total communication abruptly, it’s likely that this individual has just been ghosted. The term “ghosting” describes confrontation avoidance and isolation from a person without explanation.

Because this technologically advanced society leaves little room for excuses when it comes to sustaining conversations, “ghosting” has become the simplest scapegoat when terminating a relationship. The birth of social media has perpetuated the popularization of avoidant tactics, as people realize the confrontation aspect of ending a relationship is no longer necessary when hiding behind a screen.

Although I’m often supportive of how accessible the internet is and how open social media allows us to be, I think having such an expansive dating pool can be harmful and oftentimes teaches us to value temporary happiness over true vulnerability.

When visiting most dating apps in the market today, users will witness an overwhelming amount of people in search of a short-term, casual relationship. As an effect of today’s wide, virtual pool of bachelors and bachelorettes, modern media has begun to idealize the romantic lifestyle of having multiple partners.

Since social media allows individuals to find more than enough dating options, the interest in monogamy is slowly dying. According to a statistical study from Cosmopolitan last year, about six out of 1,000 people got married in 2022 compared to over eight out of 1,000 individuals reported in 2000.

Social media reinforces the simplicity of “hook up culture” and ‘friends with benefits’ promoting the convenience of a physically transactional relationship over an emotional connection. Although a person’s romantic choices are their own, online media’s perpetuation of a no-strings-attached lifestyle devalues real connections and romantic potential.

With all that’s been said, the advancements of the internet reap more benefits than I’ve accredited. It allows us to make connections with individuals we might’ve never had the opportunity to meet otherwise. Social media can also strengthen bonds and relationships between people and create widely accessible platforms.

Although the tempting idea of hiding behind a screen can lead us to making unethical decisions, don’t let it distract you from being true to yourself and others. The presence of social media shouldn’t immobilize us from remembering that we are all humans who want to be free of judgment and accepted for who we are. It’s time for us to BeReal.

Feature image by Lauren Wong

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