Couples with vast followings on social media can project a flawless image of what a relationship looks like. Physical attractiveness. Health and fitness. Luxury.
But social media users’ potential overexposure to these seemingly-effortless relationships on millions of’ timelines could be raising the standards for relationships.
Facebook and Instagram user Cameron Kogut, 20, believes many social media users are likely to have distorted perceptions of love as a result of heavy exposure to these kinds of romances.
“I would think that people who do follow a lot of famous couples would have their ideals skewed,” Kogut said. “Their standards may become unrealistic since they are constantly seeing relationships that appear to have no real difficulties.”
Viral couples rarely show their relationship’s downfalls
Few viral couples will show the negative aspects of their relationship, said Narissra Maria Punyanunt-Carter, assistant dean of international affairs and an associate professor at Texas Tech University, because they are trying to “give the impression that their relationship is perfect or close to perfect.”
“You typically will not find couples arguing or posting negative photos online. It makes other people envious of their relationship,” Punyanunt-Carter said.
Punyanunt-Carter worries that most social media users “don’t really look at these relationships with a critical eye.”
“I don’t think they analyze everything about their relationship. I think they just take these relationships at face value,” Punyanunt-Carter said. “Hence, what they see is what they believe,”
Selena Slavenburg and Jacob Taylor gained a large following through presenting an enviable romance of travelling the globe on their social media platforms. The couple’s Instagram, @finduslost, has amassed about 126,000 followers.
The couple’s Instagram profile illustrates an alluring aesthetic of photos of the couple globe-trotting, with less focus on their individual faces and more on their experience as a couple traveling.
‘I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say we’re happy all the time’
The difference between reality and an illusion is hard to interpret when it comes to the sincerity of relationships on social media. Slavenburg and Taylor are candid about their relationship not always being picture-perfect in real life.
“Anyone who thinks deeper knows that I’m not going to talk about any pitfalls in our relationship, but I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say we’re happy all the time,” Slavenburg said.
The couple said they work with multiple companies that generally pay them on a monthly basis in exchange for varied photography of a product.
“I think the reality is that people don’t know how much goes into trying to get that perfect shot everywhere,” said Slavenburg. “We want the (photography) variety, but we want to enjoy it too.”
Punyanunt-Carter believes that social media influencer romances can be a positive standard for couples to strive for.
“These couples might be idealistic for other couples,” Punyanunt-Carter said. “They serve as icons or role-models for them.”
A false illusion of perfect romance
The Texas Tech professor acknowledges the potential of viral romances on social media to provide a false sense of reality.
“Most relationships take work,” Punyanunt-Carter said. “It’s one thing to take a picture with all smiles for a second, but it’s another thing to live with the person all day long.”
Viral couples can set a positive relationship standard
With a critical eye and a positive outlook on the higher relationship standards that can be set by these romances, these couples can bring positive impact to lives of social media users.
Punyanunt-Carter advises to become “media literate” about the posts one consumes on social media.
“Just like regular literacy, there is media literacy, where you can learn to discern media and consume media in a healthy fashion,” said Punyanunt-Carter. “We have to understand that everything we see isn’t completely real and isn’t the complete picture.”
A viral couple’s social media account almost always serves as a highlight reel of their most beautiful moments, not as a completely transparent look into each detail of their relationship.
“It’s reality, it’s hard,” Slavenburg said. “Of course, we’re posting photos, we’re enjoying each other — but that’s one a snippet of a moment.”