Relationship experts are suggesting that single gals who are suffering post-breakup might be wise to step away from social networking and the endless stream of perfection it supplies via photos of happy couples getting married and having babies. Alexandra Churchill of YourTango quotes Zoe Strimpel, author of Man Diet: One Woman’s Quest to End Bad Romance, who says Facebook “enhances the sense that your life is lacking.” Churchill admits in her piece on YourTango that it “isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept” to note that “our online social networks disconnect us from our in-person social networks,” but she says, it’s important to remember that “what we see online is not always reality.”
While I agree that social networks can certainly make us feel inadequate when we compare the reality of our lives as we live them to our contacts’ as seen only through the lens of prosperous moments shared online, I don’t think that’s reason enough to quit Facebook, unless it’s really bumming you out. Maybe it’s because I’m friends with a lot of comedians online (and in real life), but many people in my social networks also share their disappointments with good humor, sort of evening out the success-to-failure flow of my news feed, and giving me a sense that overall I’m in step with my peers and not alone in experiencing ups and downs in life and love.
However, what I do find to be an interesting argument for monitoring your Facebook use and maintaining boundaries as a single woman is the idea that, according to Strimpel, “Facebook encourages women to over-analyse potential dates” because so much of their personal information is available online, creating “the impression that these men are more in your life than they actually are.” Strimpel says attaching yourself to men in that kind of fantasy way “is quite corrosive.” Is there a single girl among us who hasn’t too-quickly friended a love interest online, only to wish she’d waited? Once you’re connected online, not only is it tempting to look through every picture and pick out the ex-girlfriends (I’ve done it …), it’s also awkward to unfriend the person if the romance doesn’t get off the ground or worse, crashes and burns.
So think before you friend, before you scroll, before you click. If you want a rule of thumb for how to deal with potential love matches online: for every hour of time you spend together in real life, spend 10 minutes looking through his profile. Once you’ve reached your limit, don’t click beyond that. Your friend doesn’t care about how cute he looked on vacation with his ex in 2008, and neither should you.
Photo credit: Flickr user AnEternalGoldenBraid