Guest Post | Relationship Status: Complicated

Relationship Status: Complicatedby: Jen Rajchel

Hi, I know we just met, but I am going to ask you a personal question. What’s your relationship status...

with Facebook, Instagram, and your smart phone?

Mine’s complicated.

In fact, it looks something like this:

lexi grey

Yes, my relationship to social media can sometimes look the romantic tryst between the nerdy, awkward younger sister of Meredith Grey and McSteamy (enough said). And just to stretch this TGIT metaphor a bit further, I took a break from Facebook when I felt like it wasn’t respecting my boundaries.

A five year break.

I don’t however believe that Facebook will declare its undying love for me anytime soon (and I really don’t want it to). At first, it might seem overdramatic to compare being on Facebook to romantic love. Just like Joaquin Phoenix falling for his non-embodied operating system seemed a bit incredulous at first in the movie Her (although less implausible when revealed she had the voice of Scarlett Johansson—take note, Siri). More on Her in later but for now, the point is that’s not so unbelievable after all and not so futuristic (pro-tip: do not fall in love with your operating system).

Social media has become synonymous with connection. It connects us to friends, family, co-workers, loved ones, people we just met on the train, and even friends of friends of friends (who is that again?). It’s amazing to be able to instantly communicate. But is it our friends we are talking to or our homepage?

Status

We’re constantly being asked about ourselves— “what’s on [our] mind[s]?” “how [we're] feeling," "what [we’re] doing?” Mostly, we’re asked the these kinds questions when we’re entering an intimate community —one of close friends/ confidants. These questions are ones of care and by being asked them, we assume the inquisitor to have an emotional stake in the answer.

Does our homepage care? (Hint: no. Talking about yourself just gives companies more data about you to sell). Friends, of course, care and there are ways to create amazing, micro-communities within these platforms.

Here’s the thing, you actually are in a relationship with Facebook, your phone, and any other technology you spend the majority of your time with. In fact, it probably is your most intimate relationship— just think how much it knows about you (e.g. where you went for lunch, who you last spoke with, what’s on your wish list, and every random question you’ve ever Googled (let’s talk about personal).

So again, I’ll ask you: what’s your relationship status with Facebook, Instagram, your smart phone? Chances are, yours is complicated too.

Especially as we enter one of the most frenzied, celebratory, and (supposedly) most connected times of the year, don’t forget that you have the power to set the boundaries. You don’t have to see Facebook first thing in the morning nor does it need to be the last thing you see before you close your eyes at night (this goes for email, too).

I challenge you to make your own list of naughty and nice rules for your social media relationships this holiday season and post them to hold yourself accountable.

Don’t worry, it will all still be there after your raucous sledding adventures.

About Jen: A skeptical lover of all things tech (including post-it notes), who is made up of 99.5% coffee, and is always up for a good book and an adventure.

Check out more from Jen on her MEDIUM page: https://medium.com/@peasandpoetry