You’re all done up and out at the bar, chatting up a fine eligible match. Red wine, tapas and laughter; things are going swell. And then he mentions, between small plates, that he doesn’t actually have an account on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or any of that social media jazz. He is disconnected, which you find curious, even alarming. What is he hiding that he’s keeping off Facebook? Is he actually married with five kids? Is that not his real name? Is he on the sexual predator list? What’s wrong with him?
And then you realize: Wait a minute, that’s kinda super-hot.
In a world where selfies have gone from a teen-girl indulgence to something the machoest dudes stock their Tinders with, and keeping up with the Joneses has taken on a compulsive edge that drives tiny computers into our hands before we brush our teeth each morning, finding someone who simply sits out of the whole digital courtship game can be refreshing and extraordinarily appealing. So we’ve got a wild, against-the-grain tip for future courtships: Disconnect to get a date.
Sure, social media is great for meeting up with someone you haven’t seen in a long time, or maybe one-night stands … but what about love? What about the next level beyond networking? Studies now show that in spite of our 1,000-plus “friends,” social media in fact makes us feel lonelier, and turns our behavior less sociable. What’s sorrier is that when surveyed, 22 percent of people said they would give up sex before they’d give up their cellphone (?!?!?!). And for those already in relationships, social media is a fast-growing threat. Therapists at the charity Relationships Ireland found that the vast majority of couples seeking professional marriage counseling cite Facebook as a major factor in cracking up the marriage, and we’ve already told you about another study that found 32 percent of heavy Facebook users consider leaving their spouse.
Not that we need a statistically significant study to tell us that Facebook can cause a boatload of drama: Anecdotes of this type are a modern staple of cocktail conversation. “I stay off Facebook these days,” one man mentioned on Date 2. Summarizing with an utterly modern euphemism for “I got caught,” he continued: “It caused me a lot of problems in my last relationship.” Oops. “We are living in an age of anxiety,” notes Breanna McEwan, a communications professor at Western Illinois University. Although most people use social media, “we are still very concerned about the effects these new technologies might have upon us” — enough for us to consider social media prenups. With anxiety and worry two of the least sexy tendencies on earth, maybe the key is simply not playing the game.
Of course, our friends at Facebook might disagree. McEwan notes that someone who doesn’t use social media is “our generation’s ’80s family that doesn’t have a television.” She warns, “They may seem superior, but many of us don’t make that choice for ourselves.” Gwendolyn Seidman, chair of the psychology department at Albright College, notes that it might seem too strange these days, suggesting people might think a disconnected mate was “socially abnormal in a negative way.”
Still, find us a study that proves that. (Seidman, McEwan and a host of other experts haven’t seen one yet.) Until then, we’ll keep flipping our hair around these modern unicorns. Too bad, of course, we won’t be able to share this article with them.
Disconnected: Is it hot or not? Let us know in the comments.