Is Social Media Ruining Romance?

Younger Generations Skip Face-To-Face Flirting For Texts, Facebook

MADISON, Wis. - As the online language of social media continues to explode, it's reshaping the way many of us communicate. So is it also changing the language of love?

According to recent survey, 2/3 of U.S. adults who are online use some form of social media. But when the old rules of engagement fade into distant memories, the question quickly becomes: Are these social media tools ruining romance?

The answer all depends on whom you ask.

Where the whisper of autumn meets winter's chill, Kelsey Vandersteen said she hopes to warm up to her date, Rob, over dinner. Flip through the romance menu, and this couple's night out might start with a glass of small talk, a plate of good humor and a little shared honesty for dessert.

It's a classic recipe for romance. It sounds wonderful, but who's got the time for it?

"The process of meeting people has changed," said John DeLamater, professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. DeLamater said finding "the one" is now an afterthought among most young adults.

"We've created this period of five or six years where you're kind of single, more career-oriented, and you don't want to get into a committed relationship," said DeLamater.

"Yeah, there's no time for boys. It's sad," said UW-Madison freshman Raven Foulker. So, when she and her friends find a few fleeting minutes for boys, those minutes are spent, where else, on Facebook, Twitter and text message. Just about anything with a screen.

"Started out with MySpace when I was in middle school when I was 12 or 11," said Foulker, "(I've) kind of just grown up with it, and then I switched to Facebook. And so, it's always been there, and it's always been a part of social life."

"I think it provides a great avenue for flirting," said UW junior Max Eichenberger. "And the whole 'poking' thing!"

Even the guys are aware of today's digital dating game. Just ask UW senior Brian Phelps about how he met his girlfriend.

"The first time I found out she was interested, she accidentally sent me a text she meant to send a friend," said Phelps. "(The text) was about me."

Students said you must have text appeal, and cupid's arrow needs at least a 3G connection.

"Mine is usually wherever I can get service. That's my texting strategy," said Eichenberger. "I have a terrible cellphone company, so that really does hurt my game."

Heaven forbid today's tech-savvy suitors meet face to face.

"They still do that?" asked Erickson.

"Oh, absolutely!" said Louise Summers, who remembers the early days of social media. Sort of.

"We had the telephone," said Summers.

The 93-year-old's memoirs showcase the days of the handwritten love note.

"I had received a few, yeah," Summer said with a laugh.

"You like to have a fellow who's cool and kind of with it," said Phyllis Porter, who, along with Summer, is building her memoir at the Middleton Senior Center. Porter said there's nothing really cool about minute-by-minute status updates.

"What you do, how you live, how your children act," said Porter, "What they ate, what your husband ate."

"Who wants to let everybody know when you bite on a peanut?" asked Summers.

"Once you guys are Facebook friends, then you start learning a bit more about them," said Eichenberger.

It's a tactic not everyone is impressed with.

"Facebook?" asked Porter. "Can't you come up with something more creative than that?"

But before un-friending the idea of finding love electronically, a little bird played a big role in bringing together Kelsey (@nursekelsey) and Rob (@rvandersteen).

"(Rob and I) got engaged in June," said Kelsey. "And then we got married the next April. So in under two years, we went from meeting to getting married."

More like tweeting to getting married. Rob and Kelsey are redefining the rules of public displays of affection.

"You waited four dates to do a first kiss though." said Kelsey, "Which was awesome!"

A 2011 study from the Pew Research Center finds out of those who use social media, only 3 percent are using these sites primarily for dating.

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