What can Social Media tell us about being in a relationship.
The more you share with someone the more that person gets to know you.
The same happens with Facebook. The more you interact with it, the more it learns about you, especially in your journey towards love.
All this courtship period and romantic entanglement is a wonderful part of life. It’s filled with magic, chasing one another, spending more time together, some uncertainty until voilá…you become a couple. Then a new chapter begins.
Now, during all this time you’re also talking with your buddy Facebook (or its close relatives, Instagram and Whatsapp). You’re sharing with it your quest to become a couple. You upload your best photos to show the other person you’re attractive, interesting, and someone who that person should be with. You’re also chatting with him/her, exchanging texts, emojis, photos over countless hours of wooing. All these interactions through social media.
In all that time, Facebook is listening, gathering data, and analyzing both of you in silence. If you could see it, it would be a creepy dude in the distance, but you don’t care.
You’re in love.
Everything around you is music to your ears, rainbow to your eyes, chocolate to your tongue. You just care about him/her and nothing else matters.
We know how it goes from the couple’s side, and so much has been written on love. But let’s see Facebook’s perspective for a change. Let’s see what happens when thousands and millions of people go through the process of falling in love and what Facebook can reveal about them.
Period of Courtship
When two people start seeing each other, their number of timeline posts increase slowly but steadily. They exchange messages, visit each other’s profile, and post on them.
Facebook’s Data Science research tracks 100 days before the couple’s “Single” status is changed to “In a relationship” status. Just 12 days before the relationship officially begins, there’s a peak in the number of daily posts at 1.67 (posts per day).
Before becoming a couple, they also increase the amount of words expressing positive emotions (“love”, “nice”, “happy”, etc.) in their timeline posts which reaches its peak on day 1 of the newly formed couple.
Becoming a couple!
Congrats! Now the newly formed couple is at its peak of happiness according to Facebook.
The number of positive words reaches its peak on day 1, with a dramatic increase between day 0 and day 1. Here’s the chart showing the development of positive emotions before and after the beginning of a relationship.
Keep in mind that this analysis was made with couples that not only changed their status but they also added an anniversary date to mark the occasion. This trend is also based on 462,000 Facebook couples, with an exchange of over 18 million posts on Facebook.
And what happens with the average number of posts after becoming a couple? Look at the following graph:
Remember we said that the peak of posts happened 12 days before they became a couple? Well, once you enter into a relationship the number of posts per day declines abruptly.
This might mean that couples prefer to spend more time together and interactions in the physical world become more prominent. Even if the number of posts becomes scarcer, the posts become happier as seen in the previous chart.
So it’s a good thing!
Couples are finally away from social media and can focus on their relationship on a much more intimate level.
Life of a relationship — what makes it last?
Facebook published a series of studies regarding the dynamics of a love relationship on Valentine’s Day in 2014 you might want to check out.
Apart from the already discussed studies, there’s one more that seems interesting to look at: what determines a couple staying as a couple over time.
According to Facebook Data Science, the most important variable that influences how long will it last is the current age of the relationship. The more you’re in it, the more it will last.
Moreover, the data shows that about half of the relationships seen on Facebook that have survived the 3-month barrier are more likely to survive to four years or longer.
This means that couples that have remained longer together, have gone through many tough times, and their relationship has become much stronger through time. The relationship develops into a stronger bond, more difficult to separate.
So just by plotting your relationship development, Facebook is able to predict how long will it last.
Do you want to know your future?
Facebook will tell if you let it.
It’s amazing how much Facebook can know about you when you start sharing with it all your life events. And something as magical as falling in love can also be dissected into data points that Facebook can tell you a lot about.
By analyzing a lot of couple formations, Facebook can predict what is going to happen in the relationship. Facebook can tell you:
- When you’re most likely going to become a couple by looking at your post rate and proportion of positive to negative words used online. It will know it even before announcing it on Facebook!
- When does the physical part of your relationship begin (or at least intensifies) because your online activity will decrease after formally announcing your relationship.
- How long will the relationship last based on the current age of the relationship. After 3 months in a relationship, half of Facebook couples will last four years or longer.
I’m not sure which part is scarier.
Having Facebook tracking your every move (and using it to place products along the way of your relationship) or we being so predictable as human beings?
Either way, the magic of becoming a couple is a journey you’ll have to ride with all its uncertainties, awkwardness, and lovely moments.
It’s a hide and seek game no one can take it from you.
Not even Facebook.
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