Since we started posting our lives together on social media, we've been pretty consistently asked the same questions. Here are the top three questions:
- Which one is Nick and which one is Justin?
- When are you coming to Brazil?
- How do you manage putting your relationship out there for everyone to see?
The answers to the first two questions are fairly easy! Nick has a beard, and Justin (much to his dismay) can't grow one. To all you wonderful Brazilians, we want to visit Brazil so badly and we are hoping to come down and meet you all in 2019! The last question, however, is an important one that deserves a little more time and thought. Honestly, it is a question we asked ourselves a lot when our social media first became increasingly viewed, subscribed, and followed. Even though our relationship and its integration into social media took precedence for our own private discussions, this question has a lot of implications beyond just us. How has social media changed us?
For a quick review and introduction, Nick and I never started social media with any intent of "hitting it big." In fact, we had initially created our joint account as a way to keep our families up-to-date on our relationship and how we were doing. With both our families scattered across North America, it was our way of staying in touch. Things didn't officially blow up with our account on Instagram until Buzzfeed found us and (without our knowledge) wrote an article about our social media. We went from around 10,000 to nearly 200,000 follower almost overnight, and we were completely caught off guard by it. The speed at which this happened - in and of itself - provided our first challenge. Our relationship was still fairly new at the time and we had hardly fleshed out even some of the most basic aspects of two people sharing a life together, let alone figuring out what to do about social media having a (much) wider audience than we anticipated.
As many of you may know from our YouTube, we've talked candidly about both the pros and the cons of social media. In terms of our relationship, social media has again brought both. For our relationship, it has given us many opportunities to reach out and engaged in ways we never thought possible. We've also been doing what we can outside of our busy work schedules (yes, social media is not our careers, though we certainly have no qualms against it as a source of extra income or a career path) to use our platform for something more. Particularly, we've been interviewing politicians about how young people can become more engaged in politics. In some ways, too, it has also strengthened our relationship. We've developed a unique amount of trust in each other, which was brought on by - perhaps - the new era of constant options. While there is plenty of good that has come of social media, there have been some tough times.
Quite honestly, we've had to really take a look at how we engage. There are plenty of sides to the debate on how social media is affecting the LGBTQIA+ community, and we can honestly see how it both benefits the community (amplified voices, increased understanding, more engagement, etc.) and potentially hurts (pushing stereotypes, drowning out voices of the most vulnerable in the community, etc.). We've also had to think hard about what it may do to our relationship. Like I said, we were pretty fresh in our dating when the social media explosion took place. We often had to ask ourselves how comfortable we were sharing our relationship. It also begets some questions about our relationship's authenticity, right? While I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that we love each other, doesn't the constant bright cheeriness of Instagram seem strange? We asked this question all the time, especially because - like any couple - we have plenty of arguments, we disagree about a lot of things, and sometimes we just don't feel bright and cheery. Like so many as well, there are things that we struggle with about our appearances, too. Sometimes we don't feel attractive, and it's easy to compare yourself against others when you are constantly embedded in sea of beautiful people on social media. With all these issues, we've had to talk long and hard about what it means to us. The LGBTQIA+ community? We strive to be aware of issues regarding intersectionality in our community and make ourselves open to conversations (mainly with us listening and learning), especially to those carrying hurt. Sharing our relationship? We have to have really good lines of communication to make sure we are comfortable. Authenticity? We try to be as open as we can - especially on YouTube - about the struggles that we face (because we sure have plenty of struggles like any couple does). Our self-worth? We try to lift each other up, making sure to not let our insecurities overtake us.
With all that said, social media is a give and take. We often say that social media has had little overall effect on our relationship as a whole. Ask April, our roommate. She'll definitely tell you that we are as quirky, weird, and "us" as we've always been. That said, it would be naive to think that it hasn't had some effect on us. Our hope is that the effect has been for the better, making us stronger and more engaged in the people and world around us. At the end of the day, our relationship is the most important thing, and we realize there will be plenty more hard conversations to be had surrounding social media and our lives together.
Let us know in the comments below if you all have any questions or comments about this topic! In some way or another, we've all been touched and affected by social media. We'd love to potentially do a YouTube live Q&A on this or something to that effect with the questions/comments you all have!