Love is one of the most difficult themes for philosophy to address. Behind a mask of romantic simplicity and superficiality hides a concept of unimaginable depth. And, in our time, social networks and the digital universe have added condiments to the already complex analysis of love that makes the task of explaining it more difficult.
Just as it happens with different events throughout history, the digital world works and works as an accelerator of processes or perspectives. The COVID-19 pandemic served as an accelerator for digital development, increasing the effects that I will develop in the following lines.
From Showing Off To Exhibitionism
Social networks have radically changed how young people relate to each other. Using these platforms requires us to expose ourselves to know who they are contacting. But this exhibition, essential for the digital connection to occur, quickly becomes exhibitionism that leads inevitably to the development of the culture of showing.
This oversized exhibitionism is part of a seduction strategy to capture the attention of the other. Although this competition for such attention has existed since time immemorial, the digital world places us in competition with millions of people simultaneously. In this environment, a culture of envy and insecurities is consolidated.
Itemize And Possess
Something even worse happens when it comes to analyzing social relations, in general, and love relationships, in particular. The reifying process in which one is immersed is crystallized in the act of being jealous. The ability of a digital social network to visualize people means that any reaction from another (a comment on a photo, a “Like” in a comment or a Follow ) is seen as an imminent threat that gives rise to the feeling of being jealous.
Jealousy, seen as an emotional response when someone perceives a threat to what they consider theirs, is the reifying act in social relations. The act of guarding is the culmination of the perception of the other as private property. And like all private property, it must be defended from the threats of others. This act, mistakenly confused with an act of love, is the depersonalization of the person and a profound limitation of her rights and freedoms.
An Old Problem With New Manifestations
I would like to bring a fragment of the Friends series to exemplify this problem. At the beginning of the third season, we can see how Rachel, one of the protagonists and partner of Ross – another protagonist – meets Mark in a cafeteria, and he offers her a job. Of course, this is far from social networks since the series dates from the mid-90s. Upon learning of the proposal, Ross begins an escalation of jealousy as a result of his insecurity about his relationship with Rachel. This escalation reaches the point of sending gifts and singers to their work to mark territory: insecurity and objectification.