It's Valentine's Day, and #happyvalentinesday is a trending topic on Twitter. That got me to considering what is the best way to bring love into social media. Is it really to tweet how much you love someone? I'm lucky enough to have found a woman who will put up with me through almost 27 years of marriage (and counting!), and I don't really see how our bond would be strengthened if I publicized my love in 140 characters.
I tend to think that people who need to profess their love via social media are not much different than those who make obvious and awkward PDAs (Public Displays of Affection) in the real world. It's been my observation that the people with the strongest bonds are not those who noisily advertise their infatuation by constantly hanging on each other but the ones who subtly demonstrate their love by holding hands and exchanging glances. This is no different in social channels than in the real world.
Don't get me wrong, there's definitely a place for love in Twitter, but I don't think it's broadcasting how much you cherish a person. After all, the key to success in business in social media isn't announcing how great you or your products are but instead demonstrating it. And in the same way, I think love in social media is best demonstrated rather than proclaimed.
In social media, it is too easy to overlook that the actions that matter should take time, care and attention. Programming an automatic Direct Message to every new Twitter follower thanking them is not a genuine expression of gratitude akin to an individualized, customized and caring note of thanks. And taking a moment to tweet "I love you" to someone is not the same as demonstrating your affection and commitment day in and day out.
The most romantic couples I know in social media aren't the ones boring everyone else with tweeted expressions of adoration but those who support each other. For example, two friends of mine, Tom (@triveraguy) and Marjie Snyder (@trivergirl) are both avid tweeters. They retweet each other, comment on the same news, check in together on Foursquare and do a host of things that demonstrate the solidness of their relationship. They use social media to be transparent in their affection for each other without resorting to "I love you" tweets back and forth.
To me, that's the key to love in social media--not stating it but being authentic and transparent in love's expression. I love my wife and I love social media, and I hope you know this because of the things I post to Twitter and Facebook and not because I said so!