When I got the idea to write a novel that was a modern twist on You’ve Got Mail, I was immediately excited. It wasn’t until later when I started thinking about the logistics of it.
In this day and age, how do I explain two people chatting online for months without exchanging so much as a photograph?
It got me considering the way social media has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives. Online dating would fall into this category as well! Most of the time, my characters acknowledge it’s existence, but don’t spend much time on it. They might see a photo while scrolling that triggers them to think about something crucial to the story. Or I’ve had characters go on bad online dates to show how they desire a relationship so much they are willing to try whatever they can!
But I started wondering what other authors had done.
In What Makes a Home, Jaycee Weaver’s character Jobie is measuring her worth by the likes and comments at the beginning of the story. As her identity changes after finding Christ, she overcomes this unhealthy obsession.
I love that! It is an easy trap to fall into, along with the trap of comparing ourselves with the friends we see online. One of the reasons I think it can be good to include social media is to show characters who struggle with the very realistic temptations that social media carries!
Jess Mastorakos (one of my newest favorite authors), who recently started including more Christian themes in her books, has a super fun brother’s best friend story, Believing in You. A good portion of the relationship happens through a dating app while the hero is stationed overseas with the Marines. The fact that he’s keeping his online relationship a secret from her brother–who is also stationed with him!–is a perfect modern-day twist.
In my most recent release, Lavender and Lace, Lavender Bloom is a social media marketing expert and consultant, hired to overhaul the reclusive author E.M. Drake’s online presence. They immediately clash over their beliefs about social media’s value (or lack thereof). Of course, it only gets more interesting when you realize that the two have been chatting anonymously online for months.
I know some people prefer to ignore social media is even a thing in novels. There is something nice about the difference between fiction and reality. I don’t want any mention of a pandemic in my fiction! But for me, social media has been a growing part of our world for decades and I don’t see it going anywhere. I suspect we will see more casual mentions and more storylines involving social media.
What about you? Does it pull you out of the book if an author talks about social media? Or is it expected at this point? Do you have any good examples of books with social media or online dating as key plot points?