I’m judgmental. Not egregiously so — I can get through a conversation without bitchily pointing out someone else’s flaws, and spend a solid amount of time pointing out my own — but still, I am ~capable of judging~. It’s possible that my judgmental ways would’ve subsided as I matured, but I grew up during the rise of social media, and it had a blossoming effect on my snap judgments. I got a Facebook account when I was 14 (in the early 2000s, when parents were still terrified of Facebook). And as a 14-year-old girl, social media opened up a lot of doors in terms of judgmental behavior. It is a generalization to say that teenage girls are mean, and ruthless, and I have faith that many take the high road. But as someone who went to an all girls school, and poured over Facebook and AIM at home, then came to school in a kilt to gossip with friends about it, I can say on some authority that not all of us were kind. And I went to high school in the Age Of The MySpace Quiz, which gave us plenty to pass judgment on.
It got worse in college, as we stopped judging people on their MySpace questionnaire answers, and started judging people who still used MySpace. We graduated to Tumblr and Twitter, making snarky comments with our friends about people’s 140 character bios. And then Instagram happened, opening the judgment and paranoia floodgates, and messing with our love lives even more. Not only would my friends and I eliminate people based on their tagged photos and Instagram avatars, but we’d get together specifically to eat popcorn, pour out some wine and swipe left on people for the fun of it.
Social media judgment is a huge part of most of our daily routines. We bring up those judgments in conversation, using them to find common ground with people we just met. What bonds two people better than shared judgment of someone else’s behavior? I’m not opposed to this behavior — I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, seeing as I can be pretty ruthless myself.
There are times when the judgment and pickiness is more than necessary, and there’s a reason we have high standards, but how many times have you been talked out of going on a date because a friend didn’t like the look of his/her Facebook page? There will always be the argument against someone if you dig far enough through their social media accounts.
Dating in college, and after, is already terrifying because no one enjoys putting themselves out there knowing that a potential date or hook up is sizing up our flaws. But that doesn’t stop us from sizing up their flaws. And our judgment resources keep getting more expansive. We went from judging the people who were dating online, to jumping on the bandwagon, just to turn our noses up at nearly every OKCupid profile.
We relish Facebook stalking the guy from the bar last night, and love to veto people for ourselves, and our friends, based off Tinder bios. In some ways, it’s an easy defense, an excuse to not put yourself out there, a way to beat your date to the future rejection punch. Making fun of some guy’s girlfriend is just an easy way to not get stuck envying the relationship that you’re not in. What percentage of the ~love life~ conversations you have with friends are based off shitty observations about some guy’s social media profile? How often do you pass your phone to your friend and have them “judge for you”?