Social media interactions between teenagers reduce authenticity, genuine connection in modern romance


In classic ’90s romantic comedies, typical “meet-cutes” include encountering someone in a cafe, dropping books in a hallway in front of the love interest or literally running into them on the street. Today, establishing first contact with a potential partner can be as simple as swiping right on a dating app, adding someone on Snapchat or sliding into someone’s direct messages on Instagram. Contemporary “meet-cutes” revolve around finding someone physically attractive without necessarily knowing who’s behind the profile. These vastly different scenarios highlight how online interactions have taken the authentic joy and meaning away from dating and romance. There will always be a barrier when talking to someone online. One cannot know what their partner’s voice sounds like, how they laugh or any of their other mannerisms that make them unique.

Different apps such as TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram offer individuals a wider range of potential love interests, allowing teenagers to become picky and easily lose interest in someone they have feelings for. Teenagers tend to resort to online interactions because it seems easier in the moment to add someone on Snapchat or talk to them through Instagram than it would be to physically approach them in person. However, this method of communication takes away the authentic component of a relationship. There will always be a barrier when talking to someone online. One cannot know what their partner’s voice sounds like, how they laugh or any of their other mannerisms that make them unique. It’s hard to truly know and have feelings for someone when there are so few interactions with them in person. Not only does online communication take away from having genuine in-person interactions, but rising online trends have also added to the inauthenticity.

TikTok, for example, has caused teens to lose interest or change their minds when talking to someone simply because they got “the ick.” The newly popular phrase “getting the ick” comes from seeing a potential partner do something that makes one instantly disgusted by them. Usually, “the ick” is something completely harmless, such as swimming with goggles on, dropping something and chasing after it or double texting someone when they don’t respond for a while. All of these are prime examples of reasons people come up with as a way to no longer be romantically interested in someone. Something individuals must keep in mind when pursuing romantic relationships is that no one is perfect: When one genuinely likes someone for who they are, they should be able to look past these small and unimportant characteristics. Online interactions have only taught individuals to end relationships at the drop of a hat and to let small mistakes ruin their initial attraction to someone.

Another trend that originated from TikTok is finding different “red flags” in people. Although being aware of actual red flags in a relationship is important, TikTok has taught teenagers to specifically look for reasons why someone isn’t good enough. Red flags and “icks” are different in the way that “icks” are when someone does something that a partner could find repulsive, while red flags are deterrents to starting a relationship in the first place. Many of the trending red flags are actually just normal and harmless characteristics. For example, judging someone based on their astrology sign, taking too long to text back or not having a driver’s license are all considered red flags according to TikTok. Teenagers cannot genuinely get to know someone and like them romantically if they are constantly scanning the other person for all of their flaws. Social media causes people to have unrealistic expectations for relationships, and having this way of thinking will never lead to an authentic relationship.

One of the most commonly used apps for communication amongst teenagers is Snapchat. The app can be problematic for a multitude of reasons. Although Snapchat seems like a simple way to interact with someone because communication is through direct photos of someone’s face, it still fails to give an accurate depiction of what that person is like behind the screen. Talking through Snapchat builds a relationship based purely on physical attraction, and the main focus isn’t someone’s personality. Getting to know someone based on their attractiveness won’t lead to an authentic relationship because there is no interest in who they are as a person. With the addition of Snapchat and other similar apps, dating is less of a priority. It’s become more common for people to find someone attractive but not want to date them, since most communication is done through photos rather than genuine conversation. What’s popular now is being in a “talking stage” that potentially leads to a relationship, which is essentially an excuse to be physically attracted to someone but have no further interest or connection with them.What’s popular now is being in a “talking stage” that potentially leads to a relationship, which is essentially an excuse to be physically attracted to someone but have no further interest or connection with them.

TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are all contributing factors to the inauthenticity of online romance, but an additional reason why it’s hard to trust genuine intentions is because of “situationships.” Being in a “situationship” is essentially being in a relationship without the emotional connection and without having an official title. Similar to casual dating or talking stages, “situationships” exist because online communication doesn’t revolve around getting to know someone’s authentic self. It instead revolves around how attractive someone is. Snapchat and Instagram have made romance and genuine relationships seem obsolete because people would prefer to “have fun” than to be in a serious relationship. Without an official title, someone can still communicate with another person they find attractive through Snapchat or Instagram and it wouldn’t be considered cheating. The whole purpose of a relationship is to open up to someone and be able to connect with them on a personal level. In a “situationship,” there are no real strings attached and no emotional connection to that person. It is difficult for people to trust someone they are not actually dating, and it takes away all the real components of a relationship. The more common these become, the less genuine romantic relationships will be.

Some would argue that using video chat or FaceTime as a way to date online can actually be authentic. For people who go to different schools or can’t spend as much time together, video chat can be a good alternative to talking in person with one’s partner. They allow people to talk to others even when they aren’t with them, which brings couples closer together. If people have busy schedules, just calling or FaceTiming their significant other can help to make the relationship more genuine. While FaceTime may be a viable option for already- formed couples to stay together, it doesn’t provide a substitute for starting relationships in person. Seeing someone through a screen still doesn’t accurately represent who they are. FaceTime doesn’t show physical gestures or mannerisms, which are important components when it comes to building a connection with someone. In-person interactions will always be the most genuine way to start a relationship. By listening to and following trends on commonly used apps, people will never be able to find truly authentic relationships until they meet their partner in person.

Building a real, healthy relationship takes courage. Although it can be nerve-wracking, the best option would be to approach one’s romantic interest in person to form a genuine connection with them rather than defaulting to an online approach. Talk to them, get to know their interests and learn what they are like beyond their Instagram profile. These are the ways to build a genuine relationship that will last.