Love has been around since the dawn of time. However, in recent years, social media has taken a toll on the perception of romantic feelings and relationships among teens today.
With the rise of social media and its increase in use among young kids, unhealthy ideologies and relationship standards have become normalized, which can have negative impacts on teens later in life. Hookup culture has especially been a prevalent aspect in the fall of healthy understandings of love today, mainly due to the rise of dating apps. As a society, we should begin to put an end to normalizing this mindset in the generation now rather than ruin teen relationships for youths in the future.
One way to combat this issue is to stop the influence of some of the apps we use daily. From Tinder to Bumble, dating apps all promote convenient ways to get to know a person online with the same interests faster than you would in real life. However, the connection that one would feel in an in-person relationship might be lost because many avenues to spend quality time together are blocked. People get so invested in their devices that they prefer to talk online rather than in person. Social media exists to help and connect us, but in reality, all it is doing is separating us from each other.
As an adult, the development of a relationship over social media is completely different than in high school. For teens, there are so many flags to look out for, which stresses both parties, causing them to constantly wonder what they are doing wrong. This is seen in the new way people view cheating.
Cheating has become a word that has lost its meaning. Usually cheating means catching someone in a bedroom or hotel room having an affair; even suddenly seeing their location on your device pop up at a random house may count. But with social media, cheating now starts with simply liking another person’s post, accepting someone’s friend request, or replying to a story. The paranoia is reaching a point that it sometimes does not even matter what the online conversation or post entails, but what it can lead to: emotional cheating.
This mindset causes eruptions of jealousy and trust issues depending on the person. Moreover, when someone genuinely cheats they seem to not hold themselves accountable anymore as it has been surprisingly standardized to have the mindset of someone who just does not care at all because there are “more fish in the sea.”
According to Shandra Steele, 68% of people’s relationships have been impacted by social media, with 61% of others reporting having looked through their partner’s social media. These addictive apps, fully aware of the destruction they cause to relationships everywhere, do nothing to stop their harm since increased usage continuously brings revenue to the table. Trends that have come from these apps have changed the trajectory of many relationships today.
One harmful slang that has risen in popularity is the “ick.” The ick occurs when someone does something that instantly changes one’s feelings for them or even thoughts of being with them romantically. Social media has popularized the ick to an extent that the use of it is an annoyance as it is. The existence of the ick leaves no room for doubt about how social media has harmed love. Things like communicating how you feel because you are worried your partner will not want to be with you, could be considered an ick, ruining relationships for good since communication is key. Even liking someone back has been interpreted as an ick, which should not be normalized at all.
An additional trend on social media that has affected teens is the “lover girl era,” where women give their all to a relationship to make their partner happy even though they do not receive anything back. Teen girls are being introduced to adult concepts too early in their lives. This can result in teens being deceived by women who have already been in relationships. The “lover girl era” usually comes when one is already in a relationship, but many refer to it when they are barely entering it. The exchange of explicit pictures has harmed many, and now naive youths are engaging in it. Young people are so impacted by their friends’ thoughts that they send explicit pictures for validation from someone who does not want them for the person they really are.
What happened to love? Where are the relationships you see in movies like When Harry Met Sally or 10 Things I hate about you? Teens have gotten used to this toxic perception of love that has been perpetuated on social media, and they are forgetting what real, innocent love should really feel like. It feels like once in a blue moon where you find a genuine person who wants to get to know you for you and not for your body. It is getting to a point that many teens are wondering, “Why even try?”
Social media has made it so that love is just a word now. But that does not mean that it has to be. To show that your devotion to that special someone is real takes action. Sure, we are not the generation that parked outside our crush’s house with a boombox and bouquet of roses, but love is not dead. Ask for more than a simple “send” or “hang?” In upcoming years, I hope to see a change among teens with a return to real adorable teen love and not the toxic kind that will leave you scarred for months.