I signed up for Twitter when I was 15 years old. That means I’ve been on it for more than one-third of my entire life. (Oh god. What a nerd.)
When I first became involved in social media, it wasn’t nearly as widespread as it is now, and I encountered a lot of pushback. Friends and classmates often told me I put “too much” of myself online, and that “some things should be kept private.” I wasn’t using my social media much differently from how most people use it today, but because it was such a new phenomenon, my passionate early adoption of it looked weird to onlookers.
That was a time when so few people had social media that I could freely talk about my crushes and beaux on Twitter, Tumblr, and so on, without worrying that they would see it. The internet was still this weird secondary dimension where I mostly communed with other nerds, not “real people” from my “real life.” So I ranted and raved all over the place about people I was sexually or romantically involved with. It was okay; they’d never read it.
Now, though, pretty much everyone I interact with “IRL” has a strong social media presence; that’s just how our world works these days. So I have to be more careful about what I say online – we all do.
I’ve recently arrived at the belief that you shouldn’t follow people you’re dating on Twitter. The reasons for this are too nuanced to be tweet-sized, so I’m blogging about it. I’d love to know if you agree or not…
Reason 1: Anxiety and obsessiveness.
This won’t apply to everyone, obviously, but for those of us with nervous hearts, following your beau on Twitter can render you totally bananas.
You’ll see them tweeting at other folks in a semi-flirty way and you’ll wonder what the hell it means. You’ll grow to hate the smiling faces in the profile pictures of the people your beau interacts with, even if those interactions are far more innocent and chaste than they appear.
If you text them and they take a little while to answer, but they tweet in the meantime, you’ll wonder why they have the time to tweet but not to respond to you. (Hint: someone not responding to your texts immediately doesn’t mean they hate you – although you might forget this in the heat of the moment.) You’ll comb their tweets for evidence that they’ve lied to you or made up a fake excuse as to why they couldn’t hang out.
You’ll obsessively check their tweets multiple times a day to see what they’re up to. Their digital presence will allow them to stay front-and-centre in your mind, so you feel psychologically glued to them all the time instead of getting the mental space you both need.
Some people are mentally healthy and well-adjusted enough that this isn’t a risk for them. But if you, like me, have a tendency toward the obsessive, it might be beneficial for you to keep your romantic prospects out of your digital sphere.
Reason 2: Mystery and freshness.
My ex and I were both extremely prolific tweeters, and toward the end of our relationship, it became a problem. Several times in any given conversation, one person would start to tell a story and the other would cut them off: “Yeah, I saw that on your Twitter already.”
Granted, we were at the stage in our relationship where the magic had worn off and we didn’t particularly care about impressing each other – so we weren’t always as polite about this as we could have been. But there is something to be said for the loss of mystery when you follow each other’s daily minutiae on Twitter.
When I spend time with someone I’m seeing, I want us both to be bursting with new information to share with each other. Codependency and boring relationships are bred when you do everything together and never go adventuring on your own, and that effect can be replicated if you’re constantly keeping tabs on each other via Twitter. Your separate existences should be discrete enough that you’re excited to come together and catch up.
Besides which: some people post the most boring, inane shit on Twitter even if they’re dynamic as hell in real life, and you don’t want their dull online persona to kill your attraction. Your love will probably seem foxier if you don’t know what they ate for lunch or how bored they were at work yesterday.
Reason 3: Space and privacy.
Some would say you forfeit your right to privacy when you post stuff online. “Don’t put stuff in public that you want to keep private!” they’d argue. And they’re not wrong.
But that’s also a bit like saying that the conversations you have with friends in public – at a coffee shop or restaurant, say – are fair game for public consumption just because they’re happening in a public space. There is such a thing as a private exchange within a public context; you are allowed to expect respect and discretion from the people who might be overhearing your dialogue, whether it happens in real life or on the internet.
Likewise, although your beau might post stuff online where anyone can theoretically read it, they might not want everyone to read it (including you). It doesn’t mean they don’t like you or don’t trust you; they might just need a place to work out their thoughts and feelings without worrying about how that stuff will be perceived.
We all need time and space away from our partners from time to time. When someone tells you they “need space,” probably you imagine they mean physical distance, but nowadays we all need some digital distance too. Our online social lives are largely interwoven with our “IRL” social lives, so our needs and wants in both areas are similar. If your partner is the type who fiercely needs their independence and solo space, you might be able to help give them that by unfollowing their Twitter stream.
Do you follow your partner(s)/date(s)/crush(es) on Twitter? How do you feel about it?