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Valentine’s Day and impact of social media on relationships


Young couple.

As this year’s Valentine Day celebration draws near, Nigerians, especially the youths, are already preparing for the usual groove that always characterise the event.

Such grooves include holding parties, hobnobbing with friends, sharing love on social media, engaging in illicit sex, drinking to stupor and others. But unfortunately, this year’s celebration coincides with the commencement of the Lenten season, a period majority of the Christian faithful observe fasting and prayers.

Will this coincidence deter Nigerians from grooving on Valentine’s Day? Surely, it may not, especially when many of them do not know or understand the origin and true meaning of Valentine. Even if many people do not engage in illicit activities during the celebration, they will rely on the use of social media platforms to do so, thereby affirming the belief that social media has become a veritable tool for building and destroying relationships.

Meanwhile, many believe that Valentine Day is all about flowers, cards, red heart and romance, but it is not. The origin of Valentine for the expression of love isn’t romantic at all. According to Father Frank O’Gara of Whitefriars Street Church in Dublin, Ireland: “Valentine was a Roman Priest at a time when there was an emperor called Claudias who persecuted the Church at that particular time.

Father O’Gara explains:” He also had an edict that prohibited the marriage of young people. This was based on the hypothesis that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers, because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died.”

“I think we must bear in mind that it was a very permissive society in which Valentine lived,” says Father O’Gara.

“Polygamy would have been much more popular than just one woman and one man living together. And yet some of them seemed to be attracted to Christian faith. But obviously the church thought that marriage was very sacred between one man and one woman for their life and that it was to be encouraged. And so it immediately presented the problem to the Christian church of what to do about this.

“The idea of encouraging them to marry within the Christian church was what Valentine was about. And he secretly married them because of the edict.”

Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against the command of Emperor Claudius II. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.

“One of the men who was to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became Christian as a result.”

In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine.”

“What Valentine means to me as a priest,” explains Father O’Gara, “is that there comes a time where you have to lay your life upon the line for what you believe. And with the power of the Holy Spirit we can do that —even to the point of death.”

Valentine’s martyrdom has not gone unnoticed by the general public. In fact, Whitefriars Street Church is one of three churches that claim to house the remains of Valentine. Today, many people make the pilgrimage to the church to honour the courage and memory of this Christian saint.

“Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life—some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through His Son, Jesus Christ.”

But this is not case in Nigeria even in Christendom. Being a problem for most Christians in this regard is the effect and influence of the social media platforms like Facebook, WhatApps, Twitter, and others on relationship and marriage. Sad tales have been reported of women and men who met their adversaries disguised as lovers on social media, as they either ended up being killed, robbed or duped. The celebrated case of Cynthia Okosogwu still readily comes to mind.

However, it hasn’t been all tales of horror as some Nigerians have also testified of finding true love on social media.

Couples Who Met On Social Media Relay Their Experiences

By Kelechi Okoye
AMIDST the negative effect of social media platform on relationships, lie its positivity as some people disclosed how they got hooked on the platforms and it paid off well.

Speaking to The Guardian, Anifowoshe Temitope, said he met his fiancée on Facebook. “When I first met her, we planned to hook up on a friendship note, because she told me that she had a four-year-old relationship, and though they aren’t in good terms at the moment, they are actually building a future together.

“We later met and liked each other. She told me that she had broken up with her boyfriend of four years because he was cheating on her. I didn’t bother to try to fix her broken relationship as I had already dreamt of having her for myself. To cut the long story short, we started dating and fortunately for me, she was admitted into the institution I was in at that time. I didn’t want something serious at the initial stage as I thought she was one of those random girls you meet online, but as time progressed, I realised she was an angel and my initial view about her changed. I became serious with her and we will be getting married soon. We also have a daughter together.”

Similarly, Constance Okorie said that she also met her husband on social media platform, Facebook to be precise.

In her own words: “He sent me a friend’s request and I accepted. He then asked for my number. I can’t remember when I gave him my number but I did. It was very unusual of me. He started to call me once in while. He lives in Lagos, while I live in Port Harcourt, although I go to Lagos for business trips and vacation. He told me that whenever I come to Lagos, he would want us to meet. I agreed but didn’t felt the need to, partly because I was in a relationship that was at the brink of breaking, and because I have never met him before.

“Eventually, the relationship of eight months ended. I went to Lagos severally but each time I forgot to let him know. One fateful day, few months after, I just entered Lagos from PH and my phone rang. It was he. I picked and promised we would meet. We met and we clicked! I was admiring a guy I saw at the place we were to meet, not knowing that he was the person I came to meet. When he came to me, I knew immediately that he was my “Mr. Right”. The first thing he told me after introducing himself was “I don’t want to date you, I want to marry you”. I thought he was joking, but he was true to his words. We got married six months later. We have been married for six years now with three lovely kids.”

A social media addict, Adebanjo Aderonke, told The Guardian, that she met her current boyfriend on Instagram, few years ago and it feels like they have known each other forever.

“He sent me a message which I read but ignored. Few days later, I went through his pictures and found he was my kind of man, tall and handsome. I then replied his message and we got talking. One thing led to another and we started dating. He is still struggling to make ends meet, but we have plans to spend the rest of our lives together. He is the best thing that has happened to me in a very long while.”

Omobolanle Idowu said that she was in a relationship with someone she met on Facebook but they broke up because of medical issues that had to do with genotype. She said that they had already done their introduction and were about to conclude their marriage plans until they both realised they were AS.

Asking if he believed that true love could be found on social media, Chisom Ahanonu told The Guardian that she believes that love can happen anywhere.

“Where one meets ones spouse or partner doesn’t really matter. If people can meet in a club house and get married, then why not on social media? There is a popular quote that love happens in the strangest of places. I believe it because it is very true.”

A single mother, Onyedika Onochie, said she learnt so many relationship tips on Facebook and other social media platforms on how to better your relationship and spice it up. She also added that she doesn’t believe that social media can mar a relationship unless the parties involved want it to.

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