Social networks are undoubtedly one of the biggest means of seeking relationships today. Not only professional relations, but also friendship, romantic or even just new sexual partners.
But, going to the definition of the name social network, what is “social” is about them ?
We use social media alone and are not in relationshipith people. Everyday we post everything, stuck on screens. Reproducing an eternal happiness (have you noticed that everybody is happy online). More and more connected and I would say bringing virtual behavior into our daily real life.
According to Habermas, social media have the potential to become a public sphere.
“The public sphere would therefore require media for information and communication and access by all citizens. The logic of the public sphere is independent of economic and political power” (Habermas 1991, 36)
The ease and access to communication around the world that the Internet produces. But it needs money and today it is limited, because it is regulated and dominated by the large corporations that own the capital. Christian Fuchs (2014) “argues that the emergence of “social media” is embedded in the trend that boundaries between the dualities of modernity have become somewhat liquid and blurred: we find situations where the distinctions between play and labour, leisure time and work time, consumption and production, private and public life, the home, and the office have become more porous.”
Understanding this social process of social media, we come to the construction of relationships through these media. As Fuchs talks about in “liquid and blurred”, I immediately think of Bauman.
“Unlike ‘real relationships’, ‘virtual relationships’ are easy to enter and to exit. They look smart and clean, feel easy to use, when compared with the heavy, slow-moving, messy real stuff.” Zygmunt Bauman
Between one match and another, we mix virtual logic with our behavior. If you don’t like it blocked. But how do you block someone in real life? Consuming and being consumed, deleting the exes pictures from instagram and changing the status from single to engaged on Facebook. Calculating all the lies that are posted on the virtual as if they were true. Increasingly individualistic, looking for something that matches what is said to be ideal, at the same time suffering pressure to be what is said to be ideal. Being evaluated and evaluated on Tinder, Hinge, Bumble or any other new dating app they invent.
“We live in a world of communication, everyone gets information about everyone else. There is universal comparison and you don’t just compare yourself with the people next door, you compare yourself to people all over the world and with what is being presented as the decent, proper and dignified life. It’s the crime of humiliation.” Zygmunt Bauman
Within this logic of individualism, relationships become shallower. Things last as long as the satisfaction lasts. As we do with things, ready to switch to a new generation one. With many followers, many likes or maybe not. Yet socially distant in the real world, increasingly locked in social bubbles. And I didn’t even talk specifically about LGBTQ, disabled and socially marginalized people. In this case, the loneliness and violence of exclusion are even worse.
FUCHS, Christian. (2014) Social Media and the Public Sphere, Triple C. 19/02/2014. Available at: https://www.triple-c.at/index.php/tripleC/article/view/552
HABERMAS, J. (e.d) (1996) Between Facts and Norms. Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.