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Love, the end of it, and the social media

Maybe it's unfair to everyone involved to analyse why a rich and powerful man and a gorgeous and popular woman have broken up, and I shouldn't try.

What we have seen, read or heard in the news is only a human story that was amplified by the social media and then unfolded in front of us on our tablets and desktops. It used to be so easy to be in love and come out of it, but LINE, Facebook and Twitter have taken that privilege away.

The latest high-profile ending to a romance is not quite a "he said, she said" story; it's a "We heard, they (third party) said" saga. This doesn't mean the actress and her ex-husband didn't have it coming, though. Their dramatic marriage announcement, Instagram postings and magazine shots all ensured that if things did turn bad, the break-up fanfare would be as big, if not bigger.

Ninety-nine per cent of love takes place beyond the reach of the camera lens. Soul-baring interviews may cover a considerable amount of love, but, again, true acts of sacrifice, dedication, tolerance and understanding occur mostly in private. We know that, and so do the celebrity couples. The latter, however, don't have the luxury of making it something between them and the people they love, so the magazine covers become a gamble. The photos of hugging and smiling either represent something to cherish forever, or become a source of embarrassment, if not searing pain.

We all want to publicise our love. It's in our nature to want "the whole world to know". Old music videos feature lovebirds singing their happiness from mountaintops. Newer movies have the heroes proclaiming their love for the heroine (or vice versa) in public places like train stations. Today, we do it through the social media.

There is nothing wrong about wanting to tell the world. The thing is, while the social media can help publicise our love, they can't make us feel more deeply than romantics of yesteryear who wrote love letters by hand. That more people know about our love doesn't mean that the love is any greater. Love manifested through a hundred pictures is by no means stronger than that evoked by a single faded photograph.

It doesn't matter how many "likes" our pictures get: love speaks more than the thousand words that a photo is worth. We are luckier than the divorced celebrity couple because our romance does not require witnesses. We can fall in and out of love and don't have to care much about what others may think. We can cherish wedding memories without worrying about what may happen next. As for the celebs, the grander the marriage, the greater the pain when things go wrong.

But this is the social media era, which serves our impulse to shout from the mountaintops when we are in love. It is all right whatever we do, because love makes us capable of anything. We simply need to be careful and remember that our declaration of joy from on high won't merely echo a few times and then simply fade away. It will be recorded permanently, as we love it to be when everything is rosy.

Romantics might counter that "it's better to have loved and lost", and that expressing your love for someone via YouTube is a risk well worth taking. If you want your love to be firmly documented, who am I to argue? People die for love, after all. The risk of losing of face pales by comparison.

Nothing's wrong, as long as things don't get blown out of proportion.

Feelings can change - and uploaded pictures or messages can take on sentimental value as mementoes when that happens. This is where the social media show their worth. But if, one day, we feel those same media have turned against us, and the pain is more than we deserve, we should know who to blame.

In truth, Facebook and the like are full of touching love stories. Featured among recent examples is a dog who travels several kilometres each day to fetch food for its friends from a sanctuary for stray animals. Just when we frown at the social media, they come up with stories like this, revealing inspiring examples of loyalty, dedication or sacrifice by those who, most likely, don't even know what their acts mean.


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