It’s Valentine’s Day, which seems like the perfect time to talk about a peculiar social trend that has become increasingly, inexplicably popular recently: a shared social media presence for couples. A study released by the Pew Research Internet Project this week has claimed that up to 27% of married or committed internet users share an email account with their partner, and 11% share a social media profile.
“Along with having The Talk and meeting parents, creating joint accounts and sharing passwords have apparently become relationship benchmarks,” says Bianca Bosker at The Huffington Post. “Moving inboxes together is the new moving in together.” (The study also found that at least 10% of couples share an online calendar, which to be fair, makes a lot more sense practically speaking, and is nowhere near as co-dependently creepy.)
Now before you call me a cynic, let me say; I’m a strong believer that technology can be good for your love life, and I’m happy that we are living in a digital age where the man or woman of your dreams is just a click away. But is it really necessary, once you’ve found Mr or Ms Right, to merge your online identities (and by extension, your offline selves) so completely?
Not only do the romantic souls who create joint accounts run the risk of losing their own identity, an existential crisis if ever there were one, but there is also the insidious temptation to indulge in a littleFacebook image crafting. (NB: I will be deleting anyone who checks into a romantic restaurant on social media today.)
And what exactly happens to this account if, heaven forbid, you break up? As Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon points out: “It’s all great now, but what if someday the person you love is the person screwing with your Netflix queue? Or writing all those insane comments on HuffPo? It could happen.”
Surely, the sign of a truly happy, functional couple is that they are secure enough in their relationship to not have to moderate each other’s content and sharing habits. “Just go ahead and trust that the person you love can fly free on social media without being joined to you at the hip,” writes Williams. “Trust that being separate sometimes is not being sneaky.”