Love in the time of social media
ISLAMABAD: How are online social networks today affecting true and sincere relationships?
Technological development and the widespread use of internet-based technologies have changed the mode of communication. Traditionally, communication was done through the exchange of letters and limited telecommunication in the form of telephones. Now, the internet technology has paved the way for the development of social networking websites and applications like Facebook and Twitter, besides the mushrooming of online dating websites.
Before the advent of these social networking websites, relationships were carried out in an honest and respectful manner. At the individual level, relationships between human beings were considered very precious and the feeling of losing one’s beloved was very strong. But modern-day communication via social networks has put an end to the once ‘true’ relationships. People now have access to everyone; all fantasies are a mere click away. The modern networks have changed the way relationships were carried forward in the past. No one is ever ‘lost’, no matter how far away they travel. The possibility of accessing them is always there.
Relationships have become more ‘indirect’ and digitised, thereby putting an end to true and sincere relationships where direct communication was very important. Before the advent of modern-day communication, love was understood as caring for your beloved, standing by his/her side, even at the most difficult times. It was difficult for lovers to stay at a distance, and every sacrifice was made to be close to the one you love. Now, couples sustain all the requirements of their relationships through Skype, Facebook and Whatsapp. Human alliances have lost personal touch. People fall in love not with human beings, but with ghosts — digitised appearances on the computer screen, whose love can be measured in bytes and pixels. One wonders: where is romance going? The literature of the world has given us some great love stories, where love was about patience and sacrifice. Are we living up to these standards of romance now?
Social networks provide easy communication, which have changed the meaning of love. On Facebook, a person can add anyone from the opposite gender by looking at his/her profile picture. On the basis of pictures, relations are started. In most of the cases, the few chats between the individuals leads towards the development of feeling, which they call ‘love’, when in reality, it may only be an infatuation. Even the sacredness of the words, ‘I love you’ have reduced. They slip out of mouths so carelessly now without leaving any profound meaning behind. In some cases, a person is not even sure of whether the other person is really in love or only pretending to be in love. The development of video conversations have made it possible for couples not to only chat, but also to have real-time conversations through cameras. This has further destroyed the concept of true relationship. In the recent past, it has been observed, particularly in the West, that couples use the video chat option on Facebook or Skype to even have sexual exchanges. Many girls have committed suicide because their boyfriends have recorded inappropriate videos of them and shared their videos on social media.