Will you swipe right? Should you snap back even if you’re in a relationship? What if he or she liked someone else’s selfie on Instagram? Is he or she in your best friends list, or is someone else currently sliding into your DM’s on Twitter?
Social media has become one of the most prevalent outlets through which young adults communicate, especially over the last decade or so. A 2013 study by comScore indicated that most people are accessing social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook almost exclusively through their smart phones, and 18 to 34 year olds also report spending 3.8 hours a day on social media, according to a different survey by Ipsos. Though young adults use social media to communicate with the world around them, they use various social media apps to communicate with others in different ways for different reasons.
Snapchat recently came under fire from its users after its CEO Evan Spiegel removed the “best friends” feature, a feature that Snapchatters used to see who was Snapchatting whom. The backlash was caused because some Snapchatters used the feature as a tool to see if someone’s significant other was cheating on him or her, and users thought that it was integral to the Snapchat experience.
In response to the overwhelming amount of backlash, Spiegel assured his users that he would return the feature, but made no promise as to when he would do so.
In a week, the average smartphone owner picks up their phone more than 1,500 times a week, the marketing agency TecMark discovered in a study that observed phone usage of 2,000 people.
With so much time being spent interacting virtually with other people and less time focusing on interpersonal relationships, it begs the question: how is interacting with other people online affecting social media users’ romantic relationships?
Forty-two percent of 18-29 year old smartphone owners in serious relationships said that they felt their partner was distracted by their mobile phone while they were together, according to a study by Pew Research Center.
Aside from using Snapchat to see who is sending pictures to whom, social media users also utilize apps such as Tinder to initiate hookups.
Created in 2012, Tinder has boomed to over 50 million users. The app connects singles in an area with a simple compatibility system. If the user likes a match Tinder has generated for them, they look at their match’s profile, swipe left on their smartphone screen if they’re not interested, and swipe right if they are, which starts a conversation between them.
The employees at Tinder conducted studies examining how its users utilize the swiping system and found that while men swiped right for 46 percent of all of their matches, women swiped right on only 14 percent of theirs. On average, Tinder reports that users spend an hour and a half a day reviewing their matches alone.
Though Tinder is changing how social media is used to communicate with romantic interests, the biggest complaint from users on Tinder is that few matches they meet up with in real life look like the photos they put on their profile, which is likely due to the usage of photo editing apps.
Photo editing and Instagram have pretty much become synonymous, especially with Instagram’s filter options.Spredfast, a Facebook ad partner, determined that 11 percent of pictures on Instagram hashtagged with “no filter,” are actually using a filter. Another study by TrackMaven also determined that if you want more interaction on your photos, using the filter “Mayfair” will increase your likes and comments by 17 percent.
#WCW (woman crush Wednesday) posts total over 120,000,000, while its counterpart hashtag, #MCM (man candy Monday), has only 78,000,000 posts. While posting publicly a photo of a person’s crush does the job, young adults also utilize Instagram’s direct messaging system as a way of communicating with people they find attractive. People often utilize the messaging service in Tinder and Instagram, but women often find themselves subject to sexual harassment.
In order to combat/parody this behavior, an Instagram user created an account called “Bye Felipe,” in which the account operator posts screenshots of sexually explicit messages sent to female Instagram users. Its Tinder counterpart, “How to Lose a Guy in One Tinder,” takes this message one step further by responding to unwanted sexual messages in an equally creepy or sarcastic manner.
Social media is not only changing how young adults explore their romantic options, but also how they end romantic relationships. Seventeen percent of people have been broken up with by text message, email or a message online, according to Pew Research Center.
However prevalent social media becomes in romantic relationships, a study at the University of Michigan found that after studying 4000 couples, those who met online were 28 percent more likely to break up within a year, and are three times more likely to divorce if they got married.