City: Detroit, MI
Activities: Standing in a department store trying on school uniforms. Being adjusted in said uniform by my mother. Witnessing my first public fight as another mother yells at her son.
Quotations: From yelling mother – “Pants don’t fit you. You’re too fat. You should stop eating. Why can’t you be more like the other kids? My life is hard enough without having to come home and deal with your sorry %*@!
Status: I watch furtively, and then hide behind my mother. A silent thank you to the powers that be. My mother says something to the woman about being in public and embarrassing her child. The woman scoffs.
“Hey, you guys know we can still see this right …?”
Apparently, couples DO know their fights are being observed, and like the mother yelling in the store, they don’t care. In fact, as the Times article notes, some of them welcome the chance to publicly air their grievances for friends and family to see.
Michael Vincent Miller, psychologist and author of the book “Intimate Terrorism: The Crisis of Love in an Age of Disillusion” notes:
Today, popular representations of marriage tend toward “two very self-protective egos at war with one another,”…“each wanting vindication and to be right by showing that the other is wrong.”
The thing is, isn’t marriage about two individuals coming together as a couple? By using Facebook and other social media to gain “support” for their respective “sides” in an argument or disagreement, it feels more like they are keeping separate counsel and setting up camps to do battle. Additionally, when you ask your friends and family to constantly choose sides and what they see most is your Facebook status rather than your faces at the dinner table, that support each person is looking for individually can quickly turn into disapproval for the couple as a whole. [Plus: “Tacky!” — BG]
Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia would agree.
“People tend to do better in their marriage when friends and family are supportive,” Mr. Wilcox said. “When that support dries up, that can be a really big problem.”
Additionally, in an era rife with passive aggressive forms of communication, from sites that allow you to anonymously tell your friends and family what you really think to others that allow you to virtually “slap” someone, one has to wonder exactly where we’re going. Are we really evolving as thinking and feeling human beings or is technology slowly unraveling us? Have we become a society where we are more comfortable interfacing virtually with our partners rather than speaking with them when they are sitting in front of us? Just as importantly, will couples venting their frustrations with each other in the new public spaces, as parents, do the same to their children? Will anyone say anything?
The accompanying photo was particularly powerful as one of the couples sits together on the couch, their faces aglow, not with love, but lit from the screens of their laptops. While the Victorian ideals of marriage are thankfully passé, the openness that modern couples should be striving for is openness with each other, not the World Wide Web.