Some users even employ social networking sites out of romantic malice, attempting to provoke jealousy or track the whereabouts of an ex. And for some couples, being on each other's friend lists is a topic more taboo than first-date sex. "No way would I add (my new girlfriend) to my page," says Kevin, 30, an engineer near Pittsburgh. "I think she's pissed about it but if it ends, it will be too awkward if we're able to keep tabs on each other." Watch: Facebook Manners And You
Any way you slice it, we're all looking out for Number One. Here's the trouble: the more time we spend thinking about ourselves, formulating clever responses to friends’ online comments about us, posting our most attractive photos, and "pimping our profiles" to leave impressions on our contacts, the less time we spend actually interacting with and caring about others.
Even the word "friend" has transformed from an endeared noun used to describe an intimate, trusted companion to a verb that implies a quick click of the mouse. "Listen, I gotta run, it was nice to meet you. Remember to friend me tomorrow." We lack the basic fundamental of all relationships – spending time together – and personal eye-to-eye contact continues to grow more rare.
Chris Morett is a sociology professor specializing in family and marriage at Fordham University in New York City. Morett echoes this cultural emphasis on the individual.
He says our communities and peer groups have broken down significantly in the last decade, and our consumer culture promises the singular single that you can "Have it your way." Thus young Americans are less willing to compromise their own desires than ever before, and Morett goes so far as saying that the American dating process has become similar to other means of shopping for a product.