What role does social media play in relationships? According to Lab 42's survey of 500 social networking users over the age of 18, flirtation (and breaking up) happens frequently through our screens.
Lab 42, a market research firm, found that Facebook can bring about both the beginning and end of a relationship. The studay found that 33 percent of respondents had broken up with a significant other via text message, email or Facebook; 40 percent they would conceivably do so.
When participants were asked what they do after meeting someone who piques their interest, 57 percent said they'd friend that person on Facebook. Only 29 percent said they'd researching an interesting person on social networking sites, 26 percent said they'd Google the person and 11 percent said they'd follow the person on Twitter.
Some people might think it's the pinnacle of rudeness to end a romantic relationship using Facebook or email, but they're probably going to have to get used to it. Relationships that rely heavily on technology to flourish -- 38 percent of couples exchange 22 text messages a day -- also rely heavily on technology to dissolve. According to a post on Mashable, 25 percent of people had found out their relationship was over because their significant other changed their relationship status to "single" on Facebook.
The practice has become ubiquitous enough among young people that the Boston Public Health Commission even organized a class aimed at discouraging adolescents from breaking up over Facebook, email and text.
But the news from Lab 42 wasn't all bad. Facebook was also seen to be the most popular way to contact prospective dates. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they would get in touch on Facebook. Compare that to the 16 percent who said they call, 11 percent who text or 5 percent who email.
Facebook appears to be the big winner in terms of making connections with the people you like-like online. In January, Time ran an article which suggested that Facebook could drive focused online dating sites out of business. The author, Belinda Luscombe, wrote that Facebook eliminates the blind date aspect inherent in most designated online dating services because Facebook users' networks tend to be made up of friends and friends' friends, that is, people they know or may already know.
Luscombe writes, "People are less likely to lie, or put up a horribly inaccurate photograph on their Facebook profiles, because their friends will call them out." In other words, a Facebook profile which includes real world information like your name, photos, friends and job information is worth a million OkCupid questionnaires about the type of lover you are.
To find out more about how technology is changing the way we relate romantically to one another check out Lab42's infographic (below).