Social Media- For Better or For Worse

In his blog on WordPress.comDerek DeVries recounts his social media wedding proposal and wedding in honor of Valentine’s Day. Since he and his wife both experienced the features of a traditional wedding previously and were no longer interested in it, he decided to think of something one-tenth as special as his wife (DeVries). That special thing ended up being social media. In his eyes, it was the perfect platform to profess his love for her because it was how they stayed connected during the beginning of their relationship due to geographic separation and both their occupations relied on it in some form or another. Mr. DeVries cleverly created a video picture montage set to a karaoke track of his voice on Youtube that he sent to her on a QR Code necklace. Their use of social media did not stop there. For the wedding, they sent out Facebook invitations and constructed a website. The couple along with the officiant also live-tweeted using Tweetdeck while guests posted statuses, pictures, and videos throughout the ceremony. Almost every aspect of the affair had “social media” written all over it.

In comparison to other discourses found today on interpersonal relationships surrounding social media, Mr. DeVries’ story frames the subject differently. For example, it is told from the perspective of an average user of the sites as opposed to the highly dramatic and entertaining viewpoint of an extreme case, as depicted in the documentary Life 2.0. The movie presents the narratives of three heavy users of the online 3D virtual world called Second Life. This virtual world became their reality. One woman, who is a content creator within Second Life, admitted to being on the computer for fifteen to twenty hours a day while a man allowed his addiction to the site to come between him and his fiancée. Whether it was for lack of audience interest or other reasons, the film’s crew does not interview any moderate users, who most likely comprise the majority of the game’s population. Instead, they concentrate on the rare and interesting players’ narratives, which may cause viewers to form a biased opinion on Second Life, especially those who have never heard of the game before. However, Mr. DeVries’ post still retains the intriguing element, but in a subtler way. Although some may see having a social media wedding as unusual even though the idea’s commonality is growing, he is not completely consumed by networking sites. Unlike the normal central characters of social media interpersonal relationship pieces, he is very much involved in the physical world, defining himself on his website as a professor, a public relations flak, and a speaker. Therefore, he can be considered an average user similar to most of us.

By the same token, articles featuring extremely heavy social media networkers typically highlight the negatives of these sites and games. Life 2.0 displays the breaking up of an engagement as well as a marriage due to Second Life. One man became so controlled by his avatar that he began to ignore his first life, according to his former fiancée. In addition, the film addresses the debate over whether or not you can trust who you meet through social media. Two individuals married to different people met through the game and began a virtual affair, which eventually made its way offline. They believed what they had was real, planning dates in the physical world and eventually leaving their other partners to make their life on Second Life become reality. However, like most of the literature on the topic, the relationship did not end well as the man headed to India basically on a whim, leaving her heart broken. She even affirms that he was a fake. In contrast, Mr. DeVries’ story frames social media in a more positive light. He describes social media as something special to him and his wife, despite the popular belief that it is an informal and inferior form of communication, rendering it incapable of expressing a strong emotion like love. For them, it was an inexpensive and original way to celebrate their marriage with friends and family. The live-tweets and uploads from party guests made the affair almost as lively via social media as it was actually being there. This aspect was probably useful for those who could not attend the event as they could receive immediate updates allowing them to be part of the special day as well.

I believe Mr. DeVries’ blog post was presented well. It gave an account of an unusual and new way that social media is now being used, which is refreshing to read nowadays when most articles are exploring the harm the technology can cause. I would be interested in hearing how guests reacted to the social media wedding, assuming that their judgement would be affected by the common belief that some things are too inappropriate and intimate for a site like Facebook. I recognize that social networking applications have their cons, but it is how you use them that defines if they are bad or good. They have the potential to ruin a marriage or create it.

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