Because there is not any widely known research for the topic I am studying, I decided to go to the source: my generation. I created the survey and spread the word on group emails from previous classes, Twitter, and Facebook. My intent was to get a range of young adults and hear about their experiences in relationships.
One caveat: My research is primarily on young adults who meet in person and use social media to develop a relationship. It is not inclusive of meeting people online, a criticism I received in my survey. I did this because millenials are classically seen as social creatures (Martin, Monaco), and I do not find my assumption to be a fault of the survey. To broaden my horizon to those who have met on social media websites, and even dating websites would have made the survey too broad. I’m trying to answer this question: how has social media helped how you learn about someone you are interested in? How has it hindered?
With that, here is the reasoning behind each question of the survey. Over 100 people responded to the survey, however I took the responses of the first 100 to make the number-crunching a bit easier. The first few questions were done in order to get demographic information about those taking the survey. Participants between 20 – 29 were the most popular, with 75 percent and they were also had a female skew–with 68 percent female and 31 percent male, respectively.
The next question was, “When you meet someone you are romantically interested in, how long does it take before you have an online interaction (follow them on Twitter, friend them on Facebook)?”
1 – 5 days
3 weeks or more
I let them find my profile
This question was asked for two reasons; one was to gauge how comfortable/social other people feel connecting with someone they’re interested in online. The other reason was because of a common theme I hear from women, “I don’t friend someone I like, they friend me.” This adds a layer of social media etiquette that is reminiscent of the old wait-three-days-to-call or only-pick-up-the-phone-after-three-rings rule. This is fascinating because it uses traditional gendered games for relationships in an online setting. In fact, one person said:
“If you had asked me 5 years ago, I would’ve said 1 week. Now, I’d say I wait for THEM to find my profile (this is also b/c I’m a woman and I strive for the return to gender roles of men making the first move.”
My next question was about using Google or other search engines to find out about someone. It’s a common theme of future job prospects that you should Google the person interviewing you, and you will probably be Googled. Because generation y has hit an era of a necessary online presence, I was curious to see if they searched for those they were interested in.
The next question asked the best way to interact with someone; meeting in person, talking on the phone, texting, utilizing social media, or other.
This was done for a few reasons–first off I wanted to compare previous methods of getting to know someone with new methods. For instance, texting isn’t traditionally seen as social media. However, texting involves crafting a response in the same way Facebook chatting does. From my limited experience of hearing stories of my family spending hours on the phone, and even remembering doing the same with my first boyfriends, talking on the phone used to be a popular method.** I guessed it would not be as popular. Meeting in person was added in order to see how that compared to newer methods; I hypothesized meeting in person would never go out of style.
The next question asked: “Do you question whether you act desperate or too eager when you interact with someone you are romantically interested in via social media websites?”
This was also done in order to get a response to anecdotal evidence that heterosexual young women are afraid to appear too eager in social networking. At this point, I wish I had asked what the gender the person was as they answered this question, because it would have made another fascinating connection between female social etiquette online.
My last question asked how social media has changed how relationships are formed. This was my favorite question, because answers ranged from thoughtful and characterized to many who felt their lives were not changed at all by social media.
Results of this survey will be implemented in the rest of the blog posts, as I find further evidence to refute or back up the more complex questions.
** I do not have any substantial evidence to back this up, but can point to many instances in my life, my parents lives, and pretty much anyone who dated before 2005.
Monaco, Michele, and Malissa Martin. “The Millenial Student: A New Generation of Learners.” Athletic Training Education Journal (2007): 42-46.http://www.nataej.org. National Athletic Trainers Association. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. <http://www.nataej.org/2.2/EJMonaco.pdf>.