The Therapy for Black Girls Podcast is a weekly conversation with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta, Georgia, about all things mental health, personal development, and all the small decisions we can make to become the best possible versions of ourselves.
What are the guidelines you follow about sharing information about your love life online? Are you a fan of soft launches or do you prefer to keep it private? Does it mean anything to you if your partner doesn’t share pictures of you on their profiles? Everyone has their own comfort level and we’re digging into all of it today. Joining me again this week are some members of the TBG Team, Ellice Ellis, Nyesha Davis, and Miela Fetaw, to share their thoughts on dating and relating in an online world.
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Our Production Team
Executive Producers: Dennison Bradford & Maya Cole Howard
Producers: Fredia Lucas, Ellice Ellis & Cindy Okereke
Session 305: Dating & Relationships In the Digital Age
Dr. Joy: Hey y'all! Thanks so much for joining me for Session 305 of the Therapy for Black Girls Podcast. We'll get right into our conversation after a word from our sponsors.
[SPONSORS’ MESSAGES & CTA by Dr. Joy]
Dr. Joy: What are the guidelines you follow about sharing information about your love life online? Are you a fan of soft launches or do you prefer to keep it private? Does it mean anything to you if your partner doesn't share pictures of you on their profiles? Everyone has their own comfort level, and we're digging into all of it today. Joining me again this week are some members of the TBG team, Ellice, Nyesha, and Miela, to share their thoughts on dating and relating in an online world. If something resonates with you while enjoying our conversation, please share it with us on social media using the hashtag #TBGinSession or join us over in the Sister Circle to talk more in depth about the episode. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. Here's our conversation.
Dr. Joy: We are back with another incredible TBG team discussion, and this week we are talking a little bit about dating etiquette in the online world. Many of our team members are a little bit TikTok obsessed and, like many of you, have been following the beautiful saga of Jalen Noble and Monet as they've done their soft launches and now full hard launches on TikTok that has all of TikTok in a frenzy. And so that led us to a discussion around what is the etiquette around dating online and what kinds of conversations are you having in your relationships about whether you share each other on your socials and just all of those things. We wanted to share this conversation with the team, but then also open it up to the community for you to weigh in on what your rules are around dating etiquette and online profiles. So let us start with introductions. We have some voices that you've heard before and other new team members who will be sharing with us for the first time. If you would tell us who you are, your position at TBG, and then a little bit of an intro on your dating history or your relationship status. We'll start with you, Ellice.
Ellice: Hey, I am Ellice. I am the podcast producer for TBG and I also produce for our socials. I have been dating my partner for a year and a half, but I have known him since 2018. And I just moved in with him, which is really exciting. But I'm excited to talk about this, and like Dr. Joy said, it was cool that we were all on the same accord about Jalen and Monet, the TikTok influencers and their super hard launch. And so I was like, yes, this is a great episode. We have to do it.
Dr. Joy: What about you Nyesha?
Nyesha: Hey everyone. I am Nyesha. I'm the community assistant here with Therapy for Black Girls and I also assist with our Twitter page. I have been with my wife, in August it'll be 13 years and married nine years.
Dr. Joy: Perfect. And Miela, our newest TBG team member.
Miela: Hi, I'm Miela. I'm the digital content producer at Therapy for Black Girls, but I handle exclusively Dr. Joy's forthcoming book, Sisterhood Heals that's coming out on June 27th. And June 29th in the UK, for those that are curious.
Dr. Joy: Talk about a hard launch for the book, right!
Miela: I have been with my fiance for almost three years.
Dr. Joy: Almost three years, perfect. And I realize I didn't share my relationship status. I have been married for 10 years, I believe 10 years, I think this year will be 11 years, so predating a little bit of some of the social media channels. But I have a very different perspective I think on everything that has happened, and so much of this has really popped up post me being engaged and married. So let us start with a conversation around what kinds of conversations have you had with your partner around, are we going to share that we're in a relationship? What are the rules about posting each other? Do you prefer a partner who is not really online? Give me the scoop on like how you have even had conversations with your partners about what happens online.
Nyesha: Samantha and I started dating when Facebook was coming out, I guess maybe like in its like fourth year, I don't remember. So it was in relationship with. And me, I'm a social media person and she's not at all. I was like, are we gonna put in relationship with? She was like, I don't care about that, why we gotta tell people? I was like, I don't know, that's what's happening. It was literally from jump, she's not a social media person, she doesn't do social media. We do have a combined Instagram account. That was for our business page, but I'm majority of the face. You see her slide up in there when she wants to.
Dr. Joy: So she's not a social media person but she was not necessarily opposed to you posting that y'all were in a relationship or you posting pictures of y'all?
Nyesha: Not posting pictures. No, she didn't mind, but she was like you don't have to tag me. She graduated college in 2004 and she’s still got her college profile photo on Facebook.
Dr. Joy: So she’s real serious, she’s like I do not care about any of this.
Nyesha: She don't care.
Dr. Joy: What about you, Ellice?
Ellice: I was definitely the person in the relationship who wasn't like don't post me, don't tag me. I was just reluctant. I think it was less about people knowing I was in a relationship and more about like the perceptions of someone when they're in a relationship, I think. So I've been dating my boyfriend for a year and a half, first serious relationship. And sometimes I had my own insecurities about, oh, being in a relationship and then like having a career. I didn't wanna seem like the super “my man, my man, my man” girl who doesn't care about anything else. And so I think that was a big reason I was reluctant. And then it was like, oh, I don't know if I look good in that picture. Just like when you're on your partner's social, I think you're really hyper aware of how you look and how other people might perceive you. And so I definitely think now we have check-ins like, oh, do you like this photo? And can I post this? Like that's a very simple ask that I think works a lot of the time.
But I will say, outside of just like the relationship dynamics, my boyfriend definitely does produce my social medias, even outside of the stuff I post. I ask him about a lot of stuff like, oh, should I post this? Should I do that? So I think we've really grown in that comfortability when it comes to social media. And for myself, I don't think I have any hard and fast rules. I just like to do what feels comfortable. And generally, I share a lot about my life, but I don't think it's super detailed, like this is my boyfriend and we went here on XYZ date. It's just like, okay, we took a nice picture. And he does film, photos, and videos, and so it's always good to share those cuz they look really nice. And so I think I've gone with the flow, but also been very assertive and just expressed what I'm not comfortable with when it pops up.
Miela: When my fiance and I first started dating, it was at the height of the pandemic, so a lot of our dating was inside the house. I didn't really think about posting. I did say after my most previous relationship (where I felt like I was embarrassed by my ex), I was not posting a man again until there's a ring. What's the Cardi line? If there's no ring on my hands, you're not getting posted on the gram, something. It started off as not wanting to share my relationship out of a fear of embarrassment, I think sometimes women experience that. Or we post him and then a week later, for whatever reason, ex girl and ex guy have suddenly broke up. Sometimes, I feel like people are so into the know of people's relationships online just based off of what they shared.
So it started off like that for me. And then as I started to get to know my partner and just learning to love him, it became a protective thing. Like he was mine and I just wanted to keep him for myself. Cuz you know, once you post something online, it becomes the Internet’s and I didn't want my man to be the Internet’s man. So it just became a more intimate thing. This was the first relationship that I had ever been in where I felt like I had control, so to speak, in terms of posting online. He's also not really a social media person. On Instagram, he really just posts the dogs and his shoes, and I appreciate that because I feel like as a journalist and as a producer, my life exists online sometimes. So to have the option to manage what I wanted to share and that this was such an intimate thing that I got to choose, became my favorite part throughout the relationship. So then when I did share him, it was after he had proposed, it was after our proposal photos came in and it was what I think the hardest launch that I'd ever done. And a lot of my friends would probably agree with me.
Dr. Joy: When we started dating, I think the only platform I was really active on was Facebook and so I'm pretty sure we had like an “in a relationship with” thing that then changed to engaged once we got engaged. And I definitely did share wedding pictures on Facebook. But as the podcast has grown, people have recognized me and my family more, people have copied my page, so have made fake accounts with Dr. Joy on it. And so I think I used to have pictures of my husband and my kids, definitely on my Instagram feed. But I've taken all of those down now cuz I did not want fake pages, especially with my kids’ pictures like just floating out in the ether. So now I'm very private. You know, every now and then I will share something like maybe in stories, but never on the grid. Just cause I am really wearied about fake pages having my life documented in some kind of random way. But we've never had a conversation really about whether we needed to share online or anything. And again, I think much of that is related to the fact that we were married so much earlier before social media was really popping like this.
You know, we entered into this conversation with the idea of a hard launch and a soft launch but I'm not even sure how that language entered into the lexicon. I feel like we need to do a little bit of digging into like where did that even come from? It feels like the earliest experiences I remember of that kind of stuff is like people would take certain pictures and you would see somebody's arm in the picture so that you knew they were with someone, but you didn't know who it was. And now it feels like it has very much become a thing. What are your thoughts around the progression of this and how we are seeing even the idea of a soft launch and a hard launch? Like what has been your experience of the trajectory of those kinds of terms, even in your relationships, and just on your social media pages and your communities and your networks?
Miela: I love them. I am such a fan of any launch. When I launched my fiance, I was teasing on my close friends with my friends that it was going to be his probate. I'm a really big fan of people taking control of what they feel like they have to push out. I feel we're so inundated with people sharing relationship goals and celebrity couples, that even if we have the opportunity to decide when we want to share our person or how, I'm a big fan. Like please keep teasing us. Give me the arm, give me the shoulder, give me a neck. Give me half a face, don't give me a face. Clearly this person is excited enough about where they are in their romantic life to even give us a little bit, and I'm just here for it. Valentine's Day I feel like is the ultimate launch day. If there was an Independence Day for launch days, it would be February 14th. Or maybe sweetest day. But February 14th, for sure.
And I just love that people feel open enough to do that and it's become this cute like little goofy internet trend. I'm all about it.
Ellice: I love it too. I think what is interesting is that Instagram really got popping in like 2012 and that was right when I entered high school. And people used to post anything back then, like nobody cared, any and everything, like this is what I ate for lunch today. And so it's interesting to see how, on social media, things started off very free and I think then became very private. And now people are starting to share a little more and I think TikTok has helped that. People feel a lot more comfortable being vulnerable. I also know a lot of people, they reserve posting their partner to like a Finsta or a private Instagram separate from their public one, which I think is really great. And like Miela said, the ability to just control your own narrative. But then also at the same time, celebrate your love, celebrate your relationship, I think is really cool.
But I'm a peeper, like who's that? What's that arm? Who are they at the restaurant with? Oh, it's Valentine's Day, she's out of town and it's not a girls trip cuz I saw her friend with her man, so I know they're not... But I think it's interesting and I think it's fun. But I do understand why people can be hesitant to just do something so hard. Like, oh my God, I'm dating this person. Because we all know that there's gossip when the post gets taken down or when it's been three months and you haven't seen her, him, them, and there's just all these questions. And I know that can cause a lot of anxiety for people and I know it has for me. But you know, I wanna save them for myself or I love them so much just like how I love what I cook for breakfast this morning. And it's that natural to my life so I'm gonna share it just like I share anything else.
Nyesha: Like Ellice, I am a peeper. I'd be like, ooh, what they doing? Who took that picture? Ooh, whose finger was that on the dinner table? And I think that is where the addiction of social media continues, is because people, they'll soft launch. This is my first time even using this in this context, but this is cool. And someone who is literally nosy, and maybe I could be in that category based on the person, will keep looking. Oh, are they gonna share more? Are they gonna share more? I've experienced this with someone I know, and the reason why I felt that in my heart to keep looking is because they were hurt in the past. And it's like, all right, you were hurt, you were public about being hurt on social media, so now what? Are you gonna share this person? And then when they eventually did, I was happy for them and I told them that as well. That they took their time, they went through their own process, and I'm assuming they're just like I'm in it for myself and my happiness and joy.
Dr. Joy: When we posed this question on our social media channels to let the TBG community weigh in, overall, way majority of people are like just do not do it. Like don't share anything about your partner on social, which I think is interesting. And you know, so even though a lot of people are saying don't do it, like keep it to yourself, we do know that there are a lot of people who are sharing.
So one of our Instagram community members said don't post anything that invites advice about your relationship, and definitely consider, reconsider and consider again before you follow any social media advice. And so I do think that this is an interesting conversation around what happens when you do share your partner?
I feel like y'all have talked about casually sharing your partners and, okay, if we go out somewhere, if there's a cute picture of us, like I share. But we also know that there are some content creators and people who are just way more public about their relationships, and maybe make couples content or those kinds of things. And so what do you think are the guidelines around…? Because I think some would argue, when you make couples content, are you inviting the internet into your relationship in some ways? So if all you're talking about on your channels are how you make decisions in your relationship or like these are the things we do to strengthen our relationship, or whatever it is, are you then inviting advice and commentary on your relationship? Or should there still be some boundaries around how you, as somebody who's consuming the content, interact with somebody who shares couples content?
Nyesha: When you post anything on social media, you are inviting others. Unless you choose that disable feature (don't comment on it), you are opening your ears, opening your heart to just taking commentary, no matter if it’s negative or positive. And when it comes to your partner, I think both of you have to be on that same page, cuz if not, then it's gonna be some issues happening. And the ultimate goal is you need to be happy for you, and be prepared. And as you mentioned before, some people will be like, oh, what's happening? Are they still together? Ellice mentioned that. Are they still together? People are gonna be commenting. People will write on a comment, I saw you with this person before, where are they now? It's like, goodness gracious! So to me, social media, just like the newspaper before social media was the thing, the news was in our hand. It's like pretty much a broadcast. So you are inviting people to be in your life for sure. Which is weid.
Miela: Yeah, I'm with you Nyesha. Once you hit post, that content is no longer yours. I remember the day that I shared our proposal photos. It was after my fiance and I had gone to Ikea and I think we were sitting in like Shake Shack or something. And I said, okay, I'm gonna post it and I'm gonna put my phone down. And before I even had a chance to put my phone down, my notifications started going off. And then I think like after a week or two, you know when sometimes depending on certain Instagram accounts, you can see the insights? I saw the insights and that was a big mistake. The photos had been shared like 400 times and it made me so anxious because instantly my mind is like, so-and-so sent it to so-and-so's friend. I wonder what they're saying, you know? And obviously we don't have that kind of access to people's thoughts, but it made me really anxious for a couple of days. And I was like, okay, this is what happens when I don't share this intimate parts of my life for a really long time, and then I do, and it feels like the internet has crashed. So I'm with you, Nyesha. I think part of it is protecting peace, but also understanding, if you're going to bring people into your joy, into the happiness parts of your life,there's always... In the back of my mind, there's always like a third eye somewhere that's wondering what are people's intentions with this? Do they have good thoughts and just good vibes about what I'm sharing? But working on that in therapy.
Ellice: I relate a thousand percent. I think something I've had to get over, it's like, well, if I'm gonna share it, people are gonna talk about it. And that's for anything. So like I shared that Therapy for Black Girls won a Webby award and people talked about it. And I know maybe if I post a selfie and I have a pimple, people will be like, oh, look at her cheek or something like that. And so you have to take the good and the bad with social media. But I definitely would say don't look at the insights. Because I think the first time I posted my boyfriend’s full photo, like this is who I'm dating, was on his birthday and it got like 30 shares. And this was just on the story and I was like, oh my god. I knew people were gonna see it, but having 30 people send to somebody else and talk about, that's too much for me.
I also think about, and I said this earlier, when he's posted me and what people will say. And it's funny, we were at dinner one time and he posted me and this girl replied to the story and was like I didn't know you had a sister, and I thought it was super shady. And he was like, he doesn't know if it's shady - I'm like, it was. And so it's just little interactions like that that maybe for like two or three weeks will have him be like I don't wanna be perceived online, nobody's gonna know anything about me. But at the same time, I'm like people could say the same thing as I'm walking down the street. We also do a lot of professional things together and have had to talk about like are they gonna know if we're dating and things like that, and kind of managing that. And so we're in a fairly like new relationship, it's only been a year and a half, but it's been really grounding to have these conversations earlier rather than later. Especially as like conflict can arise or just as life comes at you.
Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with the team after the break.
[BREAK & Dr. Joy’s CTA]
Dr. Joy: I feel like it has been a while since I have checked any stats on social media and the impact of like technology on relationships. But I know at one point there was a high rate of marital dissatisfaction and discord in relationships related to stuff like Facebook, right? Because when Facebook first started and people were reconnecting with like high school crushes and people that you maybe hadn't seen in years. Maybe you run into them when you go back to your hometown, but Facebook and the advent of social media really made that much easier to connect with all these people from your past. And so hearing y'all talk about it is making me think of the increase, like it just feels like it escalates all these different kinds of things you have to weigh in relationships, now that technology and these networks are so much more a part of our lives.
You know, I hadn't even thought about the angle that you and Miela, Ellice, talked about in terms of checking insights. But I definitely have heard that like just related to other things. But I do think when people check insights and they realize that there is so much interest in their partner or love life or whatever, that is what then encourages them to maybe make more. So I hear you both saying like, oh, this made me really anxious and I feel like I need to pay attention to not doing that. But I think for some people it has the opposite impact in that, especially if you're trying to monetize your socials in some ways, people get really excited about that and so then that makes them want to share more. So I think that that's really something interesting to consider cuz I had not thought about that. Like whether seeing how much somebody's sharing about your love life on a particular post makes you more anxious or does it make you want to share more about that?
Nyesha: Dr. Joy, I'd love to weigh in on that. As I mentioned, my wife and I have a business page, literally, Two Mommies and a Baby. I was like, we gonna be this. And it started from my personal page and I said, oh my god, people like seeing us together, let's monetize this. Because our children's book came out so we had to create something for the children's book, and people just started saying, thank you for having this page. We had teenagers DM us and saying, thank you for being open, you make me feel comfortable with myself. And things like that brung joy. So I did use that to an advantage. And still to this day, there's one person who's been following us for years and she's like, Abigail (our daughter) is so big now. And I'm like, goodness, it's crazy, she knew Abigail when Abigail was in a womb according to social media. Never met this person in person, but we invited people into our lives. We weren't doing it intentionally, but we're like, oh, it's working out in our favor, which had given us different entrepreneurial goals and opportunities to meet. And we did, like from being booked on TV shows and being even more comfortable in the LGBT community, like we are a voice. So it worked to our advantage and I'm still working it to my advantage. That's my take on social media.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, see, I think that makes sense. Like then you realize, okay, this is how I can monetize this in this very particular way. We make a book, and we advertise around it. So the other commentary our community really talked about was the model that Issa has shared as well as Kerry Washington. We didn't even know Issa… Well, I think some people had seen pictures of Issa and her now husband at random events. There were a couple of pictures, but like she really popped out with a whole wedding. And then even made a joke about it, like, oh, this was a production kind of thing. Which I think speaks to this idea of wanting to really take control of the narrative. And Kerry Washington, I believe maybe… Did she share wedding pictures at some point? But she definitely has not shared her kids. So it definitely feels like it is a continuation of those early conversations that Beyoncé talks about having. Oprah had told her make sure to save some stuff for yourself and to be very careful about talking about your relationship. So what do you think about the celebrities who it feels like have taken control of this and really have not done any kind of launching at all, have been very, very protective around their relationships?
Miela: Issa's goals. I aspire to be like Issa Rae. I aspired, I feel like I cracked under pressure, self pressure. I love what Issa Rae did. I love that Kerry Washington doesn't really post photos of her and her husband (who is also in the industry) or their kids. I think having that control when your life is so public. Celebrities don't owe us anything. I know that they're in the business of performing, but I appreciate a certain level and attention to privacy. In my own life, I feel like I'm my own celebrity, like I'm the main character, so I try to exude that same methodology when I share things. I imagine if I ever have the blessing and the honor to be someone's parent, that I too will be hesitant or careful or apprehensive to share my own kids.
I think the same way, like you mentioned, Dr. Joy, your privacy, right? Anything can be screenshot online. And I'm not at like Dr. Joy fame where people are making fake pages about me and my family, but I imagine if I was, I too would be very careful about what I shared. I think it also speaks to, and this is slightly related, but when people share where they are in real time, I don't do that. As a woman, I don't do that. But we've seen how sharing where you are in real time has led to tragedies in celebrities’ lives, for example. So yeah, there's just a level of caution and I think and care that I take to what I post, when I post it, how I post it. And it's not with the intention of it being curated or it being fake, but it's with the intention of protecting my peace and keeping me safe.
Ellice: I constantly go back to a Beyoncé quote from her spread in Harper's Bazaar where she says: Who I am is reserved for the people I love and trust. Those who don't know me, have never met me and who have never met me, might interpret that as being closed off. I just really loved that entire spread and she was talking about privacy and not sharing her kids, and I think that's something I really resonate with and I respect celebrities for that as well. And like Miela said, we all are our own celebrities in our lives. But I think it's great to just have a little something for you. And it can be really hard, especially now when your profile as a professional is mixed in with your social media profiles, and like that can help grow your career. And it's like, it feels like people have to be personalities to be successful. And so I always do look at other creators, influencers, celebrities, and how are they kind of managing leveraging their talent and their craft with all this other stuff that's cool about them, to grow professionally as people, but also save a little that's intimate for themselves?
And I think Issa has really done that so beautifully. We know she was at Coachella, and they were turned up, doing all the foolishness and all the ratchetness, but she saved her wedding and those photos and had it be like a production, like you said. And so that balance is really cool. And I'm glad a lot of celebrities, especially black women celebrities, have taken their power back from the paparazzi, from the blogs, from places like The Shade Room who comment on people's kids, who can encourage negative commentary. And so I think it's really great. And some people might think it's prissy or bougie or being stuck up, but I think it's protecting our peace, especially when as black women, people are very critical of us. Especially when it comes to like how big you got after having a baby and a snap back, and did her baby daddy cheat on her, whatever, whatever. And so I love seeing people kind of take that power back.
Nyesha: When Miela was mentioning location, I tried. Because I don't even know why it's a thing, but we wanna share it. So what I try to do is I'll just get the brand name. Like we were at Sky Zone and I was like Sky Zone, but not this one cuz there's like 17 of them. But Abigail's school, it's brand new and they've been asking us to post it. I'm not posting it. And I'm a part of the volunteer team, of course I wanna be involved in everything. And they were like we're gonna be handing off flyers, great, I can do that. You want me to canvas? I can do that. But they were like, okay Nyesha, can you post us on your social media? And I respectfully said, no, I'm not, it's not happening. That is an invite, that is literally an invite for anything.
Miela: Dr. Joy, can I ask you a question?
Dr. Joy: Yeah, go ahead.
Miela: I'm curious. I know you already spoke to your privacy and fake pages and your stardom. I get it. But how, as someone who is so public, people can close their eyes and know what your voice sounds like, how do you protect your peace when it comes to social media? How do you choose what to share and what not to share? Obviously, your content is largely focused around therapy for black girls so maybe there is a separation with family, but I'm sure there are people that wanna know who Dr. Joy is and who Dr. Joy’s husband is, and her kids, and so on and so forth.
Dr. Joy: You know, it's so funny that you asked that, Miela, cuz I was thinking about that as Ellice was talking about it does feel like there is this pressure now to kind of share who you are as a way of advancing your career. And in some ways, I'm kind of thankful that I grew up, so to speak, and had a career before there was that pressure. I'm also laughing because my husband jokes that he is the third most googled search for Dr. Joy. It's so funny. People will search like I think around where I go to school, what sorority I'm in, and then like who's my husband. Which is so funny cuz he produces for the podcast so he's very much a part of what's happening. I think because, again, I have really kind of come of age, become a mom and all of these things, before social media was really big, I don't really think about. Like when I wanna share pictures of my kids, I share it in my family group chat. I don't necessarily even think to always share them on social. It is not my first instinct.
But I do feel like there has been, when you hear marketing classes and different kinds of things, especially as I'm in book sale mode right now, like about people buying things from people they know, like, and trust. And so in my mind, you're listening to me every week, I feel like you know the things about me that I really want people to know. But I do think probably I may have more downloads or more followers if I shared more about my family and my relationship and my kids and those kinds of things. I'm just not really interested in that, though, because it just doesn't feel comfortable to me. Like you Nyesha, I'm not sharing anything about where they go to school or where we… Now, of course when we go to spring break or whatever, I will share usually like the backs of them when we're doing stuff. But I'm not at all interested in my family becoming a huge part of the brand, just cuz that doesn't feel comfortable to me.
So we started this conversation by talking about how we were all so excited about like Jalen and Monet, but I think we also know the boundaries around what to say to somebody online who you don't actually know. Like we are all like, oh, this is so cute. And, oh, they’re finally public or whatever. But y'all have all shared instances where you've seen people in comments say things that are like, do you really know these people? And so I'm curious to hear what you all think is happening that people do feel so free to comment as if they actually know influencers or content creators or celebrities in ways that feel very familiar, when they do not know these people beyond the TikTok or on Instagram.
Ellice: We've talked a little bit about parasocial relationships in our producer meetings, and I think it's the frequency at which we see someone. So I know there are influencers who I follow who, if I'm scrolling on TikTok, I will see them at least once a day. The only person I see once a day is my boyfriend cuz I live with him and maybe, I don't know, the guy at the bodega if I'm going there all the time. And so when you have that routine in your life, you do start to feel comfortable with someone, you know the layout of their kitchen maybe, or the vanity where they're getting dressed. And it can be almost a little scary living in the same city as an influencer and it's like, oh, I know where that coffee shop is and ooh, I recognize that CorePower location. And so I've seen social media work in great ways where people have built friendships and you see influencers link up. Or like I've had black women podcast producers reach out to me and it's like, hey, do you wanna chat, get coffee? And it's like, that's great. But I do think it just seems very invasive when I see people comment, and so I think it's because of the routine in which we see them.
And then I think another part of that is sometimes people can take advantage of how much people share. And so there is a food content creator I follow who's a black woman, I forgot her name, but she's getting a divorce. And she shared so much about like moving in with her partner and they moved across the country and did all these things together, and she made a TikTok and was like I don't wanna talk about it, I just wanna start this new chapter, like I'm grieving on my own. And every TikTok since then, people are still asking questions, questions, questions. And so it's sad because I know some people will try to use that as an “I told you so.” Well, you shared XYZ in the past, so of course people will think that you can share this. And so I do think sometimes people will cross these digital boundaries and a lot of influencers have to be very hard and fast and say, you know what, I don't wanna talk about this. And not all the time is it respected.
Nyesha: So we've invited people to be in our lives. As soon as we put something on social media, it's like, hey, do you like this? Are you ready to comment? Please share. Boom, do it, please. Then there's been times where someone will put something up and they'll take it down because they'll regret it possibly, or they feel some different type of way, not regret necessarily. So as soon as something goes up, it's like, here, let's talk about it. And this is why celebrities don't owe us anything, as Miela mentioned. But they're hoping to become more private because people are just over there talking. For example, The Shade Room. There was a little girl, she's from Princesses and Tiaras, one of those little girls. Honey Boo Boo child. She's had her prom and they put her picture up. What do y'all think about this? What the heck? She's a child. Like she's graduating from high school. Why are we talking about her? What's the point? But her mom did put her on TV and it's like you're literally inviting them in for a form of entertainment for people to comment.
So it’s hard, like what do we do? You either put it up or don't. And one more thing I wanna add, it's so interesting. We're hanging out this weekend with the Sister Circle and some people don't wanna be on social media, so we have to adhere to that. We are all gonna talk about it, I'm happy about that. And then I haven't had Snapchat since like, I don't know, 2014, 2015, I don't remember. And someone mentioned, yeah, I'm gonna put us on a Snapchat, is that okay? And I was like, wow, I haven't had it, but I'm gonna download it just so I can have fun. So we can just be fun together because not everybody steps outside to even be on social media.
Miela: Sometimes I feel like there are some unspoken rules to social media. Instagram doesn't have like one through 50 of how to share your content or what to do or what not to do. Someone needs to do a case study about this, Dr. Joy, I'm sure you know somebody. But I think one of the unspoken rules is that, yeah, when you post something online, it no longer becomes yours anymore. It becomes like this web, this microcosm of everyone else that's posting something. These days, I feel like it's a lot easier to get more negative comments on TikTok because TikTok is still this very questionable space, like we're still trying to figure out what it is. Whereas Instagram, it's so much easier to just reach your friends as opposed to other people. And I also feel like folks sometimes are just haters and oftentimes prey on people's downfall. And I think that's also why people are so hesitant to share their setbacks or their downfalls, right? They don't want folks to know when they've been down.
But sometimes I feel as though that's what people are searching for and that's why negative comments come up. Like there was a trend on TikTok where people showed what their before and afters were for their hard launches. I participated as a hard launch expert now, in my mind, and one of the first comments that I got was so negative. A guy was like, oh, who do you think you are? Why do you think you're the main character of your life? Whatever, whatever, whatever. And it took me back to, I think my reply was slightly petty and I just quoted part of what Tabitha Brown had said to Wendy Williams when Wendy Williams spoke so negatively about Tabitha Brown and her relationship with her husband. At this point, I just pray for the haters because I'm good where I'm at and I love who I'm with. But if y'all feel like y'all have to say something negative, like go visit www.therapyforblackgirls.com.
Dr. Joy: More from my conversation with the team after the break.
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Dr. Joy: I do think it's interesting cuz even as we have talked, like even if I think about my own evolution in relationship to social media, Facebook, like I keep talking about, was the big thing when I was really coming of age. And it feels like it very much was for friends and family, so it felt okay to kind of share about your relationship and your kids and whatever, cuz it feels like people that you actually know, that you could actually call, or email and they would answer back. Whereas now, I think because monetization and different opportunities and things have come from social media, it feels like we very much view it as entertainment. It feels like content as opposed to an extension of your relationships with people that you actually know in real life. And so I think that is what makes it easier. You know, just like we have commentary about some of our favorite shows, like all the episodes we did about Insecure, we just did an episode about UnPrisoned, right? We talk about these characters because they're characters and I think now people are kind of perceiving real people as characters, which then invites this commentary as if they're just watching a soap opera. But it's not, it's actual people's lives.
So I do think it is important to remind ourselves that you're not actually watching an episode of Insecure when you are watching somebody's TikTok. These are real people with real feelings and to be mindful of the boundaries and like, would you say that to them if you saw them in person? And if not, it's probably not a good idea to leave it as a comment either. So the thing that we have not talked about is what happens when a relationship ends on social media. You, Miela, have already talked about having a previous relationship and I do think there is some thinking around like, okay, I'm maybe not gonna share pictures cuz if this doesn't work out then I don't have to take them all down. But what are the rules around that? I feel like people approach those differently. Sometimes people will just leave pictures and videos up cuz it's like, okay, that was a part of my past. And then other times people will go through and delete everything and all of that. So what are people's thoughts about that?
Ellice: I saw a TikTok from a creator, his name is TherapyJeff, and he was like five questions you should ask before you get in a relationship. And one of them was, what are our rules on social media? And then how will we break up? And I thought like, okay, those are kind of related questions in today's environment. So I think I was one of the people who was like I don't wanna post on social media because I was always anticipating, okay, what if we break up? How am I gonna handle that? And personally, I’m not manifesting the end of my relationship, so I try not to think about it. But I am very supportive of girls who I scroll through their page and I'm like, okay, this was the 2018 person. This was 2022. And I'm like, people just keep it up and it's just like their life. Like I know there are things I wore in 2018 that I would never wear again, but it's still on my page because it's an extension of me. And so I think that is a really freeing way to look at relationships and look at life in general. But then I know for some people, even with friendships, once somebody's out of their life, they're unliking every photo of the person, making sure that they're not tagged in anything related to the person. And so it's like, I get it. I think people in breakups, they talk about no contact and I think that can be an extension of no contact. I don't want to be reminded of them or have kind of any trace that'll lead me to possibly hitting them up, thinking about them again. And then some people are just like, you know what, it's life. It ebbs and flows and this is just one piece of that.
Miela: I like that, Ellice. And that's interesting. I d
on't know that I've ever come across a friend or like a community person's page where they leave up old photos of their partner. I feel like when the relationship ends, people are so quick to delete or archive because they want their grid to be a reflection of who they are and that person is no longer a part of who they are. Like you, I do not think about the ending of my relationship. That's not an option. But what I told a homegirl of mine was that if she was in a relationship and it ended, I think she should just do what celebrities do. Put out a press release. So and so are no longer together due to differences. At that point, folks are not gonna go looking like why they ended, they're not gonna go see why said posts were archived or no longer on the grid. Just let folks know we are no longer together. I'm happy to write said press releases for my friends.
Ellice: The conscious uncoupling. Make a nice layout, a nice little carousel. In the comments, the heartbreak emoji, some bittersweet news.
Dr. Joy: But you know, I've actually seen people do that. Now, what's interesting though is that, of course, depending on the algorithm, certain people are not gonna see it. And so then they just realize like, oh, I haven't seen so and so in some weeks. And then maybe they go back to your grid and try to find the statement or whatever, or go back to the TikTok and see. But I've actually seen couples, especially people who have done lots of couples content, they will typically make a video or some kind of thing saying, you know, we are kind of going our separate ways, please respect our privacy (of course, nobody does.) But they do at least make the effort to let their community people and people who have followed their pages know that the breakup has happened.
Nyesha: That's something that Sam and I… Well, it was me, I brung it up. I was like, what if we break up? Again, she doesn't really care about the social media world. But I would put something public out because it's rather that than people talking, especially since we've built a community online. I think it's also a form of respect because if my favorite person just cut, I'm like, dang, what happened? You know, cuz we are a community online and I just wanna give them that love back. But to me, it's just like planning for the future. So I would definitely put out an announcement.
Dr. Joy: Is there anything about online behavior and stuff that we haven't discussed that y'all think is important to touch on?
Ellice: I'm very curious, and this is maybe something we pose to the audience to comment when we released the episode. For people who are more casually dating, how do they approach that? Like if you have a date with Bob G on Thursday, but Bob G sees a hand on Tuesday, are they gonna be upset? And like how do you navigate that? You know, being single but dating multiple people and maybe you have intentions with someone. So I'm curious about that for people who are dating more casually how they navigate that. And I'm thinking of the TikToker who I love, Clark. She talks about all her different dating experiences very openly on TikTok. And I respect it because it's a model for other girls on how to maneuver these situations. But I'm wondering, it's like do these guys ever see what you're talking about? And so for people who aren't at the stage in having very serious and concrete conversations about like boundaries and social media, do people ever come to you and are like, I don't like that you said that you were going on a date and they could see my wrists and my watch or see the logo on my vest, or something like that?
Dr. Joy: That I think is a really, really good conversation cuz I do feel like there is something to be said around casual dating also becoming content. Like you will see people share screenshots of like a text message thread that they've had with somebody, and then they will ask the Internet to weigh in, like was I wrong? Or, you know, that kind of thing. And depending on how long you date, you could have a very thriving public persona and somebody you're dating not even know about that for a while because they may not be online. And so it does feel like some early conversations, almost, need to be had around like your comfort in being on somebody else's social media, even from like a first date.
Nyesha: My mom, she's young and she's into social media and her fiance is not. And the same age, but he's not into social media, and she loves it. She goes, Nyesha, I'm so happy he's not on social media, I'm so happy I ain't gotta worry about letting this… So when hearing of that, I'm happy that she got joy out of that. It's an unseen, I guess, conversation.
Ellice: I guess a follow up question or comment about that. Was there ever a point where you've wished like, oh, I wish I was dating someone who wasn't on social media at all?
Dr. Joy: I do love that my husband is on social, but not really, really on social. Like so he will primarily post about like the kids, and most of his followers and community are like people he's worked with or like people he's met through the podcast or whatever. And so it's still relatively small, so I love that he's on but not really, really on.
Miela: One question that I would love the community to answer is, is it a deal breaker if the person that you're dating or the person that you're in a relationship with doesn't want to post you on social media? Or doesn't wanna post aspects of your relationships. I ask this because the guy that I was seeing prior to my fiance, it was a time when I was insecure and there were so many nuances, but I shared intimate aspects of our relationship and he wouldn't. Like you could go on my Instagram and I was in a relationship. You would go on his and you wouldn't know that he was, and that was an issue for me. Granted, two, three years later, it's not and I love that, but it took growth. I wanted to feel seen and I wanted people to know that he was in a relationship. Whereas for him, he thought that as long as he knew he was in a relationship, it didn't matter who else knew. So I'm curious where people fall on that.
Nyesha: That was Sam's reaction. She said, why do I need to tell other people I'm in a relationship? I know. But she doesn't post on social media at all! So if you posting your sports, your outings and I'm not on it, then I'm gonna have an issue. I'm gonna have an issue.
Ellice: I think I used to feel actually very much scared of being posted. And then I went to the extreme, it was like, okay, now that I have then I kind of got used to it. And now I'm like, oh, it doesn't really matter. I know I'm in a relationship, he knows it, people who follow both of us know it, and so it's more like a free for all. But I think I'm the type of person, if we take a cute picture together, everyone needs to see it.
Dr. Joy: So the posting really depends on whether you love the picture or not!
Ellice: Yes, it does. I think it's because I feel like we take so many selfies or send each other photos individually, so when we get a good one together, I'm like, oh, this is such a good moment, I do want to share it, and I really appreciate it. But, you know, I see so much online about like, oh, if he doesn't post you, it means XYZ, but I do think some people, that part of their life just seems more private, they wanna have more control over it. They may have been hurt in the past and kind of like hiding their partner from the world, not hiding the world… or whatever the saying is. I think everyone has their own reason. I do understand how someone could have a lot of anxiety and feel like it's very shady. Like you post everything else, but you won't post me.
And I also think that feeds into something I said before, like before you're dating someone or just in general, your social media is tied to a certain persona of you. And some people, in their minds, they love you and they want to be with you, but other people perceiving them as the boyfriend or the girlfriend or the partner, it can be very overwhelming, and they don't want people to think like their life is just that. So I do get it, but I do understand how some people, it's like, oh, do people flirt with you on Instagram? And so if you post your partner, you don't get that attention anymore and you want that attention. And so I think there are just so many different dynamics, so I am interested to hear what our listeners have to say about that.
Dr. Joy: Yeah, so we do feel like this is an episode that there will be lots of feedback about and we are excited to hear your thoughts. If you agree with us, if you disagree, have different thoughts around how you handle social media in the dating world. Whether you're casually dating, seriously dating, we definitely want you to weigh in. Make sure you use the hashtag #TBGinSession and participate in the conversation, let us know your thoughts. We will wrap up by all of you sharing where people can find you online if you do want to be found online.
Miela: I love that, Dr. Joy, thank you for giving us the option. You can find me on Instagram and TikTok @MielaFetaw.
Nyesha: Dr. Joy, thanks for letting us share that. I am @TwoMommiesAndABaby. On Instagram only cuz I'm not in the TikTok streets.
Ellice: I am @EllicEllis on Instagram. And then on TikTok, it's @LliceyCakes. And I post about Therapy for Black Girls on there. I share a lot about Therapy for Black Girls on there, so definitely follow that.
Dr. Joy: Perfect. Well, we will be sure to include all of that in the show notes. Thank y'all for joining me for this very exciting conversation. I really appreciate it.
Nyesha & Miela: We appreciate you, Dr. Joy. Thank you. Yes.
Dr. Joy: I am so glad Ellice, Nyesha and Miela were able to join me for this episode. To learn more about them, visit the show notes at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/session304. And don't forget to text two of your girls right now to encourage them to check out the episode. If you're looking for a therapist in your area, check out our therapist directory at TherapyForBlackGirls.com/directory. And if you wanna continue digging into this topic or just be in community with other sisters, come on over and join us in the Sister Circle. It's our cozy corner of the internet designed just for black women. You can join us at Community.TherapyForBlackGirls.com. This episode was produced by Fredia Lucas and Ellice Ellis, and editing was done by Dennison Bradford. Thank y'all so much for joining me again this week. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you all real soon. Take good care.