If I ever find myself back in school and needing to write a thesis, I already know the topic I want to write about: social media.
Just think about the insane impact that social media has had in its fairly short tenure: it is intertwined with how we spend our free time, it’s affecting the development of children and teenagers, and it has become a lucrative breeding ground for capitalism.
It blows my mind that people are able to not just make money on Instagram, but can post a single photo for a four-figure payment. Our online presence versus how we interact with others in real life, too, is something that always buzzes on the back of my mind. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat—oh man. I love em, I hate em, I can’t always wrap my mind around em.
Social media fascinates me. My husband, less so.
Millennials and Technology
Chad and I, as millennials, grew up in an interesting time of intersecting technology. For example, we both grew up with simplicity: we had many standard pieces of tech, like a household TV, landline phone, desktop family computer, and a wide collection of CDs and VHS tapes. I could listen to cassette tapes, too, if my brother helped me set it up.
We had the classic internet-and-phone dial-up dilemma, which I mostly didn’t really care about because I was too young to be on the phone much anyway. Instead, I played outside, a lot, and used my imagination often. If we had questions that needed immediate answers, we asked our parents and were usually directed toward a dictionary or encyclopedia or newspaper.
But then, everything changed. School had computer labs and typing lessons and Powerpoint presentations. Google became our best friend. We cycled through the generations of iPods and started taking selfies on digital cameras, though we didn’t have a name for them quite yet.
We got flip phones in middle school, and much later were able to upgrade into the realm of smartphones (senior year of high school for me, just last year for Chad. LOL.)
And too, with this insurgence of advanced and accessible technology and the world’s information literally available at our fingertips, we signed up for social media. First Myspace, then Facebook, then Instagram, then Twitter, then Snapchat, then Vine.
Our Relationship and Social Media
I was allowed to get a Myspace page as a teenager after I made a convincing presentation to my parents and had my brother to supervise. I was only allowed to sign up for Facebook on my 14th birthday because my parents were strict about following the terms and conditions (thanks, guys! This was the right call, after all).
So, I had a relationship with social media before I ever had one with my husband.
Back then, social media had a strong presence in relationships. Everyone around me was constantly updating their status from single, posting photos to each other’s walls, and writing cute things and dedicated paragraphs with their partner in mind. It was a virtual game of showing off, punctuated by a sappy Women Crush Wednesday each week. Like any other teenage girl, I thought that was the epitome of romance—the best way to show appreciation and dedication and pride in your relationship.
Yup, I’m cringing now just thinking about it.
But at the time—that felt valid. It seemed like social media was a type of love language. Today, maybe it still is among the youths. Here’s the thing, though: it was never something my husband bought into.
Chad doesn’t do social media. He has a Facebook page, but his posts are dated years apart. There’s no Instagram account, and he only recently downloaded Twitter to get his fix of sports news and memes that I tag him in, of course.
He never posted about me on my birthday, shared a photo of us, or even liked my handful of statuses that flood his notifications. He’s not into it. And once upon a time, that drove me crazy.
Evolving Past Social Media
It took a few years, but I can now say that social media has no bearing on either of us in our relationship. It hasn’t since the early days of college; there was some maturing and growing up involved to see that the world does not have to be invited to peer into our relationship for us to feel validated.
You have to be secure in your relationship in person to not need external validation. That’s it. That’s the bottom line.
Sure, it seems like common sense. But distancing my worth away from social media has been a struggle like it is for many others who have grown up in an age of constant technological interaction. We’ve had an online presence for over half of our lives. Kids these days have a digital profile before they’re even born, or able to consent.
I’ve mentioned this before, and it will always be relevant to Chad and I: because of our age, we had to grow up together. If social media seems like a small and petty thing to have any qualm over—you’re right. It is. But that’s the kind of thing that comes up when you are jumping straight out of adolescence. You might feel all these strong feelings and be with your soul mate, but you haven’t completely matured. Lessons like these came with time and patience and a willingness to learn and understand each other.
On Chad’s part, he’s made an effort in small ways that make me smile: he’ll offer to take my photo for the gram, will log in to FB to like a blog status, and has even updated his profile picture to a wedding photo. He’ll pose for photos and sometimes suprise me with a self-motivated selfie. Those are big actions for someone that despises social media, and I appreciate it.
These days, social media is only a part of our marriage when I dump photos, we exchange memes, or I write cute things about Chad on the internet. And that’s the way I like it.