If you go to relevant news websites, you are likely to read several articles about how text-based communication and online social networking are ‘destroying intimacy,’ possibly making us more impatient, less able to form ‘real bonds,’ possibly ‘destroying’ other forms of communication such as essays, academia, literature, printed media.
Actually, putting pointless login gates or requiring subscriptions to their component website rather than leveraging the internet correctly is destroying printed media, as are a large number of articles about how [something] is ‘destroying’ [something else] ,e.g. ‘Are iPads Destroying Toddlers.’ And if communication in general is seeing a marked degradation blamed on ‘youth culture,’ one could probably blame not text-based media but ‘youth culture’ for being exceptionally passive/reactive/lazy, or something.
However, text-based communications/globally-connected ‘smartphones’ et al are in fact having a visible impact on the ‘romantic’ lives of single twenty and thirty-somethings – more aptly, the technology provides a viable avenue for them to enjoy physical intimacy at as much convenience as possible while avoiding emotional intimacy, which is not really ‘romantic’ but appears to be what a large volume of people would like to do.
What follows is an ‘overview’ of the role various text-based ‘instant-acccess’ media play in a process of modern courtship.
An attractive member of the gender of your sexual preference ‘likes’ some of your friends’ statuses, or you observe that they are ‘attending’ an event to which you have also RSVPed ‘attending’ [and genuinely plan to attend, versus clicking ‘attending’ in case you feel like going later thereby inflating the guest list and ruining the event host’s ‘headcount’]. You attempt to look through all of their pics, using established personal criteria to determine whether you want to contact them or the pic was actually deceptive.
You could try to ‘friend’ them, complimenting the tastes they have displayed in their profile, or notice that there are ‘mutual friends’ of note to discuss, or say something like ‘I’ve seen you around’ whether or not this is true, or you could just be vaguely creepy and look for them at the event to which you RSVPed and noticed they were going. If you communicate with them ahead of the ‘event,’ the person and you will become enthusiastic, looking forward to meeting, then you can time it so that you both meet when you’re stupidly drunk and will go home together.
After that you don’t post on each other’s ‘walls’ because advertising any kind of connection to each other in front of others seems ‘presumptuous’.
After that, you are at liberty not to return the other person’s Facebook messages anymore, and when they try to ‘chat’ you can feel comfortable pretending you did not recieve it, because as the old adage goes, ‘Facebook chat sucks.’ Everyone knows that.
If you or the person you are interested in is an active Twitter user, Twitter can play a key role in the process of developing a shallow relationship with a targeted individual that completely precludes emotional intimacy. It is an excellent way to encapsulate someone within a surface assessment of their text personality so that you can prejudge and avoid the difficult process of actually getting to know them. It is also a way to ‘stalk’ an individual thereby determining what shows they went to, what they are listening to at work, or other vague facts about them that you can casually bring up in conversation later.
It is also an ideal way to see how many other romantic ‘prospects’ they have. After you sleep with them and experience your first bout of irrational possessiveness despite having only a loosely-defined and rapidly-diminishing plan to contact them again, you can read their Twitter ‘feed’ to see if they are talking to an indicative degree to a member of their preferred gender.
You can then stalk that person and be suspicious of them. Then if stuff you read on Twitter comes up in conversation you can pretend to be totally surprised, like you didn’t read it on Twitter.
Text messaging is a crucial component of your strategy to be intimate with someone while keeping them at a distance. Once you have ‘cased’ your target using social networks – and it is advisable to be self-aware and not pretend you are doing anything more dignified than that – you will use text messaging to ‘seal the deal’.
Once you send the person you only recently only kind-of met a text message that says ‘hey is anything going on tonight’ you will ‘tip your hand,’ so to speak, and you should be aware that you should not send text messages like that, nor text messages to the effect of ‘what are you up to’ after a certain hour unless you would like the recipient to construe your text message as a sexual invitation. That is just the world we live in.
Also, more than any other ‘platform,’ text messaging allows you the freedom of silence and total aversion of confrontation. Eventually one of the people you socially-networked into coming home with you will text you again simply to ‘see how you are,’ or will express a genuine interest in you as a person, like ‘how did [thing you told me about while I was letting you sleep over in my bed] go.’ Because you told them you did not want ‘a relationship’ you are at liberty not to return the text at all, or if you believe you are kind of a nice person you can send back some kind of clipped or terse reply that fulfills the duty of ‘reply’ while hopefully the other person can ‘get the hint’ or ‘read between the lines.’
The rules of text-based communication are very important, and if someone violates the rules you have liberty to totally ‘cut them off’ and if your friends are like ‘what happened to that dude/chick’ you can say ‘s/he was clingy, s/he totally texted me like three times yesterday’ and they will nod sagely. After an awkward pause, you add, ‘I mean, I don’t know what s/he wants, I told her I didn’t want a relationship.’
In general, the proliferation of text-based communication and detached socially-networked interactions with people who are called your ‘friends’ but aren’t actually ‘friends’ is not destroying intimacy between people. Rather it creates a convenient avenue for people to destroy intimacy themselves, and similar avenues will probably continue to arise to address the growing demand for less intimacy.