“To share, or not to share, that is the question.”
If Shakespeare had lived in these perilous times he would have perhaps begun the famous soliloquy in Hamlet thus.
‘Share’ is the rallying cry of the social media of the day; everything you do, (or forget to do) is shared with the rest of the world. But increasingly the ‘share’ sentiment has become restricted to the clicking of a self-named button on a social medium. And increasingly, share is also beginning to have another bearing on humans, in their relationships.
Social media has turned people’s lives around. Suddenly it is easier to get in touch and remain in touch, over geographical distances, and time zones. People long believed to have been separated by six degrees, now collide with each other in the cyber world and create liaisons inconceivable until a few years ago. To add to this, these interactions can be kept sole, exclusive and totally private. Closeted in office cubicles, on their commutes and just about anywhere, people can have unbridled and unmonitored interactions.
While most couples who grew up in the times of Hotmail and Yahoo (in the early 90s) were astounded by the level of privacy an email interaction could afford, the new generation, the one that grew up playing on smartphones, takes it for granted.
Therein lies the problem.
Those who don’t like to share their passwords with their partners or spouses say this is their private space. “I won’t share my passwords with a girlfriend or spouse” says Neeraj Thakur who is a social media addict. In addition, Thakur feels that a partner may not understand the context of a conversation and there might be a tendency to misunderstand an interaction. The thought is echoed by Shefali Patel* a PR professional who admits, “I don’t think my husband will understand my interactions with people which may border on being flirtatious, but are harmless.”
To others, the refusal to share passwords has nothing to do with privacy but everything to do with ‘Trust’, a word that has come to define the depth of a man-woman relationship. In 2010 a New York Times article stated, “Sharing passwords to e-mail accounts, bank accounts and photo-sharing sites is the new currency of intimacy."
Sajjani Nair says she has no problem sharing her password if she’s asked. “I feel infidelity surfaces the moment you have to hide a password or a text message” she says.
Over the years, the emphasis on trust in intimate relationships has increased to accommodate the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty that are perpetuated by the very nature of social media interactions turning it into a device to protect a relationship.
In an age when the young generation abhors sharing their social media passwords with parents or other significant adults, it is clear that the line between trust and privacy is very fine and every relationship must walk the tightrope to find their own balance and order.
First published in The Golden Sparrow.