First up, addiction, followed by ambivalence before finally adopting a ‘needs-based’ approach.
(There’s also another school of thought which suggests it follows the five steps of ‘grief’ i.e. denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance)
But the first one struck more of a chord.
I’ve been (and in many ways still am) in the addiction phase, I’ve experienced the love / hate period, and of late social media has increasingly become a ‘tool’ that I use when required.
But, as we’re talking about ‘social’ media I thought it was missing something.
It took a bit of thinking but then it hit me…almost as if Cupid had shot an arrow at me: Social media adoption and ‘actual’ relationships face virtually (no pun intended) the same challenge(s).
OK, let me explain in brief.
According to the five stages of a committed relationship model by Sarah Shultz, we typically experience the following journey.
Stage One – The Romance Stage
Everything about that person is intriguing, fun, interesting, new and exciting.
Now, think to your first dalliance with Twitter (or Facebook, or any other social media vehicle) – some similarities? I think so.
Stage Two – The Disillusionment Stage
Also known as the ‘adjusting to reality’ stage – and it’s exactly that, the ‘newness’ wears off a touch and that all-consuming ‘drunk’ feeling is replaced by a few doubts / questions.
Again, I think I experienced this with Twitter. I got over-excited, thought it was something it wasn’t and therefore it wasn’t being as good to me as it was to begin with.
Stage Three – The Power Struggle Stage
Also known as the ‘distress’ stage and naturally follows on from stage two, but the fallout becomes harder to deal with.
More than anything, you’re aware of the differences between you and that person – which presents several challenges – and compromising / making adjustments is tough, but necessary.
This definitely occurred in my Twitter adoption phase. Did I really want to bend / not be ‘me’ to make it work? It turns out (as it often does in a relationship) that you don’t change per se, you just become more self aware, allowing the evolution to continue, setting you up for the next stage.
Stage Four – The Stability Stage
Restful and peaceful compared to stage three. You’ve been through some challenges but you survived, allowing you to thrive on the fact that you came out of that difficult stage in tact.
I had some serious doubts about what role, if any, I wanted Twitter to play in my day-to-day life but once I got past that, I saw its benefits and actually grew to appreciate the lessons it was teaching me i.e. sharing, listening and all the other things that go with it.
Stage Five – The Commitment Stage
Also known as the acceptance or transformation stage. You make a conscious choice to be with that person in spite of all the things that annoy you because overall, that person make you better and vice versa – you become a much more potent team.
Now this is the tricky one for me, mainly because I don’t think anyone on the planet can say they are committed to Twitter.
Well, they can, but there’s no proof. If in 10 years time Twitter and I are still ‘together’ then yes, I can more confidently say that we are / were in a committed relationship.
Want to know the scary thing? It estimated that only 5% of couples make it to the commitment stage.
Now, if our individual and collective relationships with Twitter follow the pattern outlined above (which I think there’s enough evidence to suggest it has so far), is there only a 5% chance that it will be part of our lives in 10 years time?
Perhaps it will have been replaced by something else long before then?
Perhaps it is just a fling?
No matter what, human beings follow patterns.
I hope that 5% prediction is wrong.
But I also look at my relationship history, and well, perhaps 5% could be incredibly generous. I am human, after all.
What do you think? Could Twitter follow the same pattern as a relationship? Drop your comments in the box below.