I have never understood why people declare Facebook relationship statuses. If they are really your friends, chances are they will know that you have a significant other. If they are merely Facebook friends, why would I need to reveal personal details about my life to them online? To me, I always thought that it’s perhaps a bit attention-seeking and potentially sets oneself up for acquaintances to ask how you are doing via a wall post after they saw that you are “no longer in a relationship” with so-and-so when they didn’t even know you were with someone in the first place.
So why do people still do it?!
Well, I thought more about it, and a lot of people I respect tremendously have actually declared their Facebook relationship statuses, so I started to try to come up with reasons why.
Perhaps some people declare their statuses as a matter of fact. If I declare my birthday on Facebook because it’s simply a part of who I am, why can’t other people declare their relationships for the same reason? Some people would say that putting your birthday online is already too personal, so who am I to judge what other people define as an appropriate level of personal privacy? I also think for those who are in a long-term relationship (e.g., married, been together for years, etc.), declaring your partner on Facebook is akin to declaring your brother or sister, because they really are family and hopefully permanent fixtures in one’s life.
Then, there’s the argument that some people only add friends on Facebook when they really know the person, so in fact, friends on Facebook significantly overlap with what I will refer to here as “real-life” friends. In this case, Facebook could theoretically be used as just a quicker way to notify close friends about personal details like relationship statuses, but I still find this method of communication rather impersonal. That being said, I’ve transmitted relatively important details in my life to close friends and family through Facebook messages and email, so again, who am I to judge? The difference, of course, is that Facebook messages and emails are more private and personal (I think…).
Finally, there’s the idea that a Facebook relationship status is really a declaration to the world. Many people realize (although this may be debatable) that once information is online, it is permanent and exposed to the entire globe. However, they still declare their relationship status with their girlfriend or boyfriend because it’s a sign of love and commitment. It can be construed as a sign of dedication that someone is willing to announce to the world (and more importantly, their social circle) that she or he is taken. I imagine it can be seen as a gesture that moves a relationship forward in some eyes, like a promise ring (when those were still popular) or the introduction of the significant other to one’s (in this case, social) network of friends.
To me, though, it seems like such a public way of demonstrating love, but I guess it’s just my problem with accepting that when it comes to how relationships work, to each their own.
What do you think?
In short, I have way too many random thoughts about the implications of social media when I am procrastinating.