Print Edition: May 9, 2012
I think it was Shakespeare that said spring was for lovers, or maybe (since I can hear the phrase echoing in my head in a vaguely Scottish lilt) it was Robbie Burns. One way or another, our poet hit the nail on the head. Warm winds are blowing, and nothing makes you want to hold hands with someone more than those cute little blossoms sneaking their way out of the ground. As a friend of mine recently remarked on Facebook, “must be spring, relationship statuses just comin’ out of the woodwork.”
It’s a cute enough sentiment: Everything is growing, so why not love between two people?! D’aww! Yet, it’s one that I ultimately take issue with. Not with the spring-is-for-lovers idea (which I just looked up, and, to all of our surprise, is apparently a poem by Edwina Reizer.). I think it’s a fact of life that we want to get busy in the spring. My problem lies, instead, with the relationship statuses of Facebook.
This beef has several parts, the first of which is pretty simple. Apparently, if I don’t declare it on the internet, my relationship isn’t real. When did “Facebook-official” become “official-official”? I’ve been hounded time and time again by friends and family (and friends’ family) to finally “make it official” and share it with the great wide world of Facebook. Do I have to? I don’t think it’s necessary, or even really beneficial. That little heart icon is a titch too nauseatingly cute for me, thanks. Why would you want to place so much meaning in such an insignificant heart hyperlink, anyway?
I have a short parable to share with you. In my high school days, when Facebook was still relatively new, a friend of mine changed his relationship status from “single” to nothing at all, deciding to no longer showcase his relationship standing by taking it off his profile altogether. Facebook translated this move into an update that appeared on all his friends’ newsfeeds, reading, “X is no longer single.” He was subsequently hounded for weeks about the identity of his new significant other, despite this significant other being non-existent.
This is sad on a couple of levels: first of all that he was forced to explain, time and time again, the extent of his own aloneness. Secondly, the fact that the majority of his Facebook friends didn’t, apparently, know him well enough to realize there was no new lady in his life.
I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to list my relationship status on Facebook for a couple of reasons. If I’m in a relationship with someone important to me, it’s something I can share with friends and family myself, without any help from Facebook.
It goes like this: if you’re close with someone, and see them on a regular basis, these sorts of things come up in conversation. It’s a natural process, and it guarantees that you control who you want to know things about yourself. You share things with people you’re close with, and it’s casual and easy. You have a conversation about what you’re studying, where you’re working, who you like to hold hands with, etc.
Facebook, on the other hand, is a one-way avenue: your profile shouts things at your friends, and they shout things back at you. There’s no real communication – just a proliferation of information. This is a huge downfall of Facebook; we’re drowning in information, at the lack of basic human interaction. I know more than I want to about a lot of people, because this one, drunk time I decided to friend them on Facebook. They clutter my newsfeed. They tell me (and the world) why they broke up with who they broke up with, and in the same breath tell me what they had for lunch.
Think of this, then, as my refusal to clutter up your newsfeed. If you care enough to ask, I’ll tell you who I’m seeing and how serious it is. It won’t even take a minute – but it will take real, human interaction. I’ll even ask about your love-life. We can have an exchange. Compare, contrast, laugh about the stupid little cute things our relationships have in common. We can talk about how conducive spring is to date night. It’ll be fun, and it’s something that Facebook will never be able to replace.