Love In The Time of Social Media

I think one of the most ironic things above love on social media is that it’s not actually driven by the idea of love.

It’s driven by likes.

I mean, surely this wasn’t the intent of the founders of social media. They just wanted to make money and to create networks that would make friends and family more accessible. By virtually bringing college buddies and close kin from thousands of miles away to your fingertips, social media changed the way we communicate.

And verily, when they created likes, they changed the laws of love.

Now, people define their very existence by Facebook’s thumbs-up button, or a well-placed heart on Twitter or Instagram. “Likes” validate one’s words, and in some cases, one’s worth.

Evaluating your self-worth through the approval of others sets a dangerous precedence from the outset. But when we evaluate intimate relationships and pending marriages by the impossible standards set on social media … have mercy on us all.

This dynamic came into play on a recent Facebook post about $24 engagement rings sold at Kay Jewelers. Apparently, the initial poster thought it would be funny to pick on recipients of said engagement rings. Of course, this turned into an unhealthy and deeply conflicted discussion about “real love” and commitment.
Is it “cheap” to invest in an engagement ring that’s 30 bucks — after tax? I suppose it depends on how much you have to spend.

Know what’s cheaper than a $30 ring? Cynically linking finance to romance via the sounding board of social media.

I’ll tell you a personal story about engagement rings. Years ago, before I got married I taught a group of teens in Bible study about doing things in “God’s timing.” One of the examples I used expressed the importance of financial preparedness before marriage. I mentioned engagement rings, saying how such a ring could be a large investment if you’re not careful about interest rates.

I wish I’d taken my own advice.

Something that was more expensive than the engagement ring was the wedding. Tens of thousands of dollars spent on extravagance and people — some of whom I haven’t seen since my wedding.

Currently, my beautiful wife and I have a son who is less than a month old. I’m just thinking about what I could do for my son with the money that disappeared with the extravagance and the people.

Most people, if they are honest, have a similar story. They’ll tell you they wish they had saved their money.
That doesn’t make them cheap or mean that they’re falling out of love. It simply means their perspectives and priorities have changed over time.
Another plot twist — Black folks, on average, have little to no wealth. How realistic is it to spend a thousand dollars or more on a ring when some reports say the median Black family is worth $1,700?

Now, I understand it is somewhat unrealistic to expect such a dialogue in the entertainment-based world of social media. And that FURTHER underscores the reason why we should be very careful about how we police the idea of love on social media.

It is time for us to grow up.

We must honestly include finance in our conversations about romance. That honesty could help the relationship between Black men and Black women.
We allow social media to dictate social policy and standards among Black folks, with negative consequences. Despite all of the banter about interracial relationships and parenting, Black people statistically choose each other when choosing a mate. Black parents DO love and want their kids.

Now is a time to be responsible, not reckless.
Our words do matter.
We can’t let personal hate or public scrutiny determine social policy.
It’s time for mutual respect.

It’s time for love. Not just likes.

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