Facebook Pales in Comparison to Physical Reality


Facebook data scientist, Carlos Diuk, has released an analysis on the correlation between posts and relationship status.  Looking at 100 days prior to the official status change, there is a higher volume of posts shared between the two individuals. There is a hyperactive feeling involved in the pursuit, like an excitement one gets before opening a gift.  Facebook pales in comparison to physical reality in a number of ways.  Some of the reasons are traced back to a time before social media ever existed.

It was a greeting in the hallways of school, or a hangout with a neighborhood friend. The sentiment with the association would grow stronger over time.  Engagements would ensue eventually, and this would be announced to family, friends, and with whoever else the happy couple came into contact. In the age of social media, the pattern of dating has changed, evolved, or maybe just mutated. The Facebook data study looks at a collection of varying factors, but not all of the findings were published. What is seen is a cause and effect phenomenon.

After the relationship comes together, the official status change marks the next cycle of events. The two individuals are believed to be spending more time together in the physical world, and online interaction decreases. This is seen through the wall-to-wall interaction data.  Furthermore, Diuk writes that posts, though less in numbers between the pair, are much more positive in emotion, or “happier.”

The distancing a couple undergoes from Facebook can often be a good thing.  A Buzzfeed contributor makes many valid points on how Facebook “ruined dating.”  People who end up dating while having access to each other’s Facebook profile sometimes end up having more drama in the relationship than a blissfully ignorant pair have. This is an example of “altered relationship patterns.”  More questions enter a person’s mind, irrelevant questions, regarding past events and romantic situations which are portrayed, or inferred, by the history of photographs seen on each other’s pages.   The drama that could ensue is just another reason why Facebook pales in comparison to physical reality.

When a real world relationship was experienced before Facebook, it included face-to-face experiences, not normally involving a personal photo album; at least until the couple meets the family. Having personal questions on the mind prompts one to ask this to the other person.  The timing may be inappropriate, but if the questions linger, more inferences might be made. Questions could also arise pertaining to alcohol use, marijuana use, political beliefs, religion, past romantic relationships, and those platonic, yet close, relationships that probably add to a level of distrust to the relationship.

There are other issues Facebook causes in a relationship.  “Alternative partner monitoring,” and cheating, are thought to occur more because of the readily accessible profiles that would not appear so easily if one had to leave the house to meet people.

The selection of relationship statuses is the official declaration of a relationship, but one has to then choose from an “open relationship,” “it’s complicated,” “single,” and a “regular relationship.”  The question the user has to ask him or herself is, “What kind of relationship am I really in?”

Romantic situations are better understood on a less absolute scale.  Usually people take the time to establish a committed relationship, but the social media code of ethics makes one wonder, and maybe even hesitate. It is hard to interpret a person’s reaction to something when they are not physically with their “other.”  Just a few reasons why Facebook pales in comparison to the physical reality.

Editorial By Lindsey Alexander


The Atlantic

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