Valentine's Special: Lovebirds

Social media has helped overcome the geographical divide - making it easier for lovebirds to tweet sweet nothings across continents on Valentine's Day!

Women holding a broken heart

Image: CC-AT Flickr: kelsey_lovefusionphoto

I will be spending this Valentine’s Day alone. Indeed I may well find myself babysitting while my parents go out. I would be far more willing to accept this indignity if I were, in fact, single. Anyone else who is in a long distance relationship will understand my plight. They will also know how vital communication is. 

Facebook is indisputably the foremost social medium, at least for those seeking to maintain a romantic relationship. Officially confirming that one is “in a relationship” now constitutes a serious commitment. It has become something of a milestone. First date, first kiss, Facebook officialdom. Presumably this series ultimately ends in marriage or similar. I can’t say I would know.

Of course, this aspect of Facebook can be its most brutal. With a click of a button you can “cancel” your relationship, and let thousands of your closest friends know. But, leaving behind the purely descriptive, Facebook can facilitate healthy communication in its various forms. Most obviously, there is the celebrated Wall.

He’s a Northern boy. I’m a Home Counties girl. Public displays of affection were never on the cards. That is why our Facebook Wall-to-Wall looks fairly sparse, and incongruously formal. Apparently Facebook has quite the sense of humour, and sent my beloved the following message: 

“Reach out:
Laura MacPhee
Say hi.
Write on her Wall”

He did. He copied and pasted the above.

Other couples flood each other’s walls with affection, lest their devotion be questioned. Laughing at people like that brings more cynical couples closer. It is the online equivalent of mocking other couples in a restaurant (one my favourite Valentine’s Day pursuits).

Personally, I favour private messages, and the disinhibition they encourage. It seems less overtly formal than e-mail, and allows you to express your love more comprehensively than Twitter. Having said that, the latter does have substantial merits.

Twitter is a wonderful tool, for everyone, but especially for the long distance couple. It lets you continue to share your passions. You can also promote each other’s endeavours, in a display of loving support and solidarity. This is particularly effective where the couple are journalistically inclined.

Twitter can also be a good alternative form of communication. If both are Twitter addicts, this can be a good way to get the other’s attention. This is also helpful on occasions such as New Year’s Eve, when traditional mobile technology can be especially temperamental.

Katy Perry and Russell Brand have famously used Twitter to communicate whilst apart. Indeed, the recent decline in such tweeting has provoked speculation about cracks in their marriage. Twitter is clearly a very public forum for essentially private communication.

Instant messaging services have proven to be the most useful online device. Applications such as Google Chat allow users to have unlimited conversations for free. This is a fantastic facility as you can talk at any time, making it exceptionally convenient for busy couples.  

Social media have certainly eased the burden on long distance relationships. They have their own pitfalls though, and Google chat could never replace the intimacy of a phone call. I fear Facebook may not provide me with adequate solace as I share my Valentine’s Day with a glass of Rioja.

Perhaps I’ll tweet about it. 


Laura MacPhee is recent graduate of Oxford University, where she read Jurisprudence. She researches copyright related issues for the Open Rights Group. 

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By Laura MacPhee on Feb 14, 2011

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