Social media has gifted us memes, hashtags, and DM’s.
The influence of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have infiltrated its way into politics, fashion, music, and widespread culture through humor, fads, and quick news.
I’m not one to knock social media. I have been offered job opportunities, connected with family across the world, and learned about news at a fast rate through various platforms. I’ve seen the power social media can have every time I see hashtags being used as a tool in campaigns about body image, mental illness, and various other positive messages. All this being said, there’s one aspect of social media that I do consider to be problematic. I find that the #RelationshipGoals or #Goals trend in relation to a superficial photograph can lead to unhealthy habits for both the viewer and publisher.
Typically, the hashtag #RelationshipGoals is utilized when a user reposts an image from another account. Imagine a couple lying on the beach with long locks and full smiles — let’s say, the sun is setting and love looks alive. A user may repost this image on their personal account or comment on the image with the hashtag, #RelationshipGoals. Innocent enough, right? However, I have witnessed this hashtag being used repeatedly, and serious platforms have been publishing articles about couples who are #RelationshipGoals — people we know nothing about, people who are smiling in a photo.
Instagram is a space to curate your relationship, daily tasks, days at work, or trips across the world. It’s simply that: a curated collection of your life. Anything you don’t want to share — the gritty, the sad days, the failures — is negated and only your success and joy can be deemed visible to your followers.
The interesting part of the #RelationshipGoals trend is that it hurts those who are posting the images and it hurts the viewers as they compare their life to someone else’s. Social media has created celebrities out of average individuals — people we know nothing about other than their twitter handle. By controlling the narrative, viewers are only able to visualize the life of the account holder by a single moment in time, a photograph, which is completely perception based.
A 2014 a study in the journal, Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that individuals who were more insecure about their relationship tend to make their relationship more visible. This isn’t to say that sharing images of your partner defines you as insecure or in trouble with your love life, it does, however, support the idea that images do not equate happiness.
As someone in a queer and polyamorous relationship who is unable to successfully have PIV sex, my partnership comes with a plethora of imperfect scenarios and situations. Nevertheless, friends and family believe that we are a so-called #RelationshipGoal. The pressure surrounding the phrase is heavy, something that you have to live up to, and most importantly, a phrase that is, honestly, unrealistic. When I mention to friends or family that our relationship is open, I can see the disappointment spread across their face in a slew of hashtags, and the mirage of what they thought we were disappears.
#Goals of any form should go deeper than eating pizza in bed together or walking hand in hand during a snow storm. Deep conversations, intimacy, and shared career or personal goals are what make a relationship strong and secure. Creating lasting goals with your partner: emotional support, financial stability, the future of a family, etc., should all be the real #RelationshipGoals. Love does not need to rely on retweets or Instagram likes. What is behind the photograph shows the truth, and to compare your happiness, and your love, to the goals that you see on a screen can harm how you live your present life.
In short, you have watched people long enough. Go make love your reality.
Image courtesy of Getty Images.