Social Media: A Love Story

As I perused the Internet for the perfect article to analyze, I was disappointed with my findings.  All of the articles I encountered offered lists of reasons why social media would ruin relationships, and although it is true that relationships in the social media realm are not always rainbows and unicorns, I was determined to find an article that was more than a laundry list of social media’s detriments.

I then came across the article “Tweeting Ur Luv on #Vday” and was instantly hooked by its playful title.  To my delight, the title was not the only impressive aspect of the article, for the text and embedded video were up to par as well.

I first watched the video titled Social Media Saves Valentine’s Day, which was produced by Socialnomics author Erik Qualman.  Although this video did demonstrate a failed relationship due to social media, it did it in a fun, exciting way, which actually highlighted many of the benefits of social media.  Because of the high-speed qualities and sense of community exemplified by social media, this man was able to pull off a Valentine’s Day that was too good.  This light and positive representation of social media continued throughout the article.

In addition to its optimistic approach, I also really enjoyed the article’s well roundedness.  Instead of focusing on one specific couple, writer Bob Strauss references couples that reconnected on Facebook, a single woman without a Facebook, Twitter feeds, and other online communities to portray social media’s affect on Valentine’s Day.

Strauss speaks of two couples that were old friends before reconnecting on Facebook that eventually turned into romantic partners.  Strauss emphasizes the importance of social media’s impact on sustaining these relationships, but what I would have liked to know more about was how the early reconnection had gone about.  Donath and boyd say in their article “Public Displays of Connection”, “the public display of connections found on networking sites should ensure honest, self-presentation because one’s connections are linked to one’s profile” (74 Donath and boyd).  How did these couples find each other on Facebook? Did they actively seek each other out or did they stumble upon one another by chance going through a mutual friend’s network?  Were the ways the other person was depicted on Facebook representative of the old friend they remembered, or were new aspects of this person’s identity on display for them to learn? I think it would have been interesting to know a little bit more about the beginning stages of these couples’ interactions.

Strauss also presented a counterargument to social media’s relationship benefits by offering Amanda Taylor’s “social media is the devil” opinion (Strauss 1).  Not only did I like the way this opinion downplayed the article’s optimistic skew, it also served as lead-in to a community of girls who are alone on Valentine’s Day, Single Girl Problems.  This Twitter feed perfectly demonstrates Baym’s attributes of online communities such as sense of space, shared practice, and shared identities.  It is a place where single girls who feel alone go to feel not so alone anymore.  They identify with each other while submitting their own “single girl problems,” and gain emotional support within this social space, which Baym defines as,“the ability to turn to others for comfort and security during times of stress, leading the person to feel that he or she is cared for by other,” (Baym 83).  There is a “shared sense of who ‘we’ are” and different users assume different roles, as I would assume there are definitely some “lurkers” hanging around Single Girl Problems (Baym 86-87).  Strauss mentions other websites that typify Baym’s five characteristics of online communities such as, Cheaterville, Cupidville, and Karmaville as well.

As opposed to the film Life 2.0 this article presents its story with a much lighter connotation.  Life 2.0 dramatized each storyline it followed.  Whether the users were depicted as creepy, psychologically damaged, or even as part of a community, each scenario was seen as extreme.  This article is quite the opposite, showing a multifaceted view of social media.  One woman quoted in the article says, “I use social media to say Happy Valentine’s to all of my friends and family,” but she also distributes candy to her co-workers because she, “wants them to know that they have a real friend” (Strauss 1). The juxtaposition of using social media, and acknowledging her “real” friends shows that there are no extremes depicted in this article.

After looking at all sides of the spectrum, the article has a slightly optimistic tone and seems to conclude social media has a positive affect on relationships by bringing people together.  Overall I think the article did a great job at assessing the situation from all angles—he examined different platforms, different types of relationships, and different outlooks—and left the reader with a substantial understanding of the different realms of social media and their affect on Valentine’s Day.

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1 Comment

  1. That video just sent me on a 2-minute emotional rollercoaster. The video and the article do good jobs of juxtaposing the goods and evils of social media today. On one hand social media has to ability to create connections that otherwise cannot or would not likely exist, but on the other, social media’s public nature can destroy intimacy in relationships, both platonic and romantic. However, I think Strauss is a little too broad and ends up concluding, like a million other articles do, that social media can be used to both augment and ruin relationships. A little obvious by now, no? He is very focused on the end result of successful or failed online relationships, but does not shed much light on exactly how or why they got to the point they got to. I wish he had carried out some sort of quantitative research just to support either side of the argument with some more concrete evidence or even just spoke to the human nature of his subjects’ online and offline actions. Were there differences in online and offline relationships of those who had formed successful relationships? What are some of the specific experiences that Amanda Taylor (who says that “social media is the devil”) had that has made her so bitter towards those types of mediums? Strauss has garnered a great variety of people with different experiences and opinions when it comes to social media. Just a little more probing would give his article the real oomph that I feel it’s missing.

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