THE BLOG
05/22/2014 11:19 am ET Updated Jul 22, 2014

Technology: Complicating Human Relationships One Subtweet at a Time

Image Source via Getty Images

Technology is awesome and wonderful, and without it, how would everyone else know what we're eating? Would we just tape pictures of our breakfasts to lampposts? However, technology also is a provider of more networks for people to send cryptic social signals to each other on. Imagine a time before Instagram when people had to actually tell people that they had romantic feelings for them instead of just making them their Women Crush Wednesdays. That must have been the life!

Can you imagine having to wonder if a cute guy you meet is compatible with you instead of being able to creep through his tweets and see that you guys have the same favorite band? Technology has given us so many (mostly baby animal video-related) gifts, but the new barriers it creates puts more social pressure on young people than ever.

First of all, technology has changed the way we categorize each other. Different factors determine whether someone is considered a friend or foe. Do they follow you on Twitter? Friend. Did he comment the heart eye emoji on your selfie? He wants it. Did she unfollow you on Twitter? She doesn't like you. Does she have less than 100 followers? Lame. Does she have more than 1,000? She buys them, also lame. Now, we have preconceived ideas about each other that can be made without actually even seeing each other in person. By putting people in these tightly-locked boxes, we are dumbing each other down from actual human beings into remarks of 140 characters or less. We are reducing each other to statuses and numbers.

Twitter and Instagram allow us to decide how we want to appear to other people so specifically it's scary. The "bio" in a profile was made to give others a quick summary of who you are before deciding whether or not to follow you, but how can you get to know someone that quickly? How can you decide whether you want someone in your life, or want to be in theirs, through a sentence or two? The Internet breaks data down to ones and zeros, but people cannot be broken down to ones and zeros.

Furthermore, I think social networks have become so popular because they make people feel important. Now, you don't need to wait for someone to ask how you felt about the movie you saw last night, because you can tell the world! It makes it seem like the world not only wants but needs your opinions. When something big is in the news for a celebrity, they send out a personal statement. Twitter allows each user to feel like their own celebrity who needs to send out a personal statement on every little thing that happens to them. Now, you can be activist too, wishing the victims of a natural disaster well without even donating a cent, by simply tweeting a hashtag. Social media pumps even more helium into our dangerously inflated egos.

Social media, at the same time, is damaging our self-esteem. A picture used to be worth a thousand words, now it seems it's only worth however many likes it receives. People base not only others' worth on their social media rankings, but their own. They spend hours getting ready just to take a picture of themselves for their profile pictures. I've received actual texts from people specifically asking me to like their newly posted Instagram picture. Social networks are ways for people to put themselves out there for judgement without having to actually see it, and there's a panic switch for even more added comfort: the delete button. Social media allows us to express ourselves without the feeling of judgement, and judge each other without having to directly express it.

Finally, I would like to fully express my hate for the "subtweet," but I don't want to break any more vases. So, here are the basics. If you didn't know, a subtweet is when someone tweets their feelings toward another person without actually tagging the person, for example, "You are so annoying." The tweeter feels a weight lifted because they got their feelings out, and superiority because they look saintly to their followers for apparently they putting up with so much annoying-ness that they need to tell the world. But the tweetee, who may or may not know that the tweet is about them, is forced to wonder if they did something annoying/what they did. Sure, there are positive subtweets, like "You make me so happy," but it is just as cowardly, as the tweeter does not have to express who is creating their happiness, leaving that person to wonder. Someone should start a charity where they give diaries to teenagers who feel the need to subtweet their feelings toward others because no human deserves the torture of having to read meaningless emotional outbursts.

In conclusion, I love the Internet and its seemingly endless array of gifs of cats fitting into places I didn't know they could fit, but its offerings of guiltless, unnecessary self-expression is hurting how we relate to each other and should be used in moderation and only for the right reasons. The world does not need a selfie of you every day; we haven't forgotten what your face looks like.

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