Perspectives: Facebook Relationships

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Becca Bobrow ’11, Julia Friedman ’11, and Michael Nussbaum ’11
Features Editor, Staff Writer, and Web Managing Editor

Becca: I’m seventeen years old and married. Most of my friends are married, too.

Or at least engaged.

On Facebook, of course.

Almost everyone I know has a  “relationship status” of some sort on their Facebook profile. Whether “It’s Complicated” or “Open,” relationship statuses are often hard to decode. There are those boyfriend/ girlfriend couples who opt to be “Engaged” on Facebook, or people in relationships who instead choose to “marry” their best friends on Facebook instead of publicizing an actual coupling.

Can you even have a relationship if it’s not Facebook official?

Julia: Everyone has a high school crush. Usually it’s a jock or one of the popular boys. For me, it’s Gabe Block. He’s sarcastic and demeaning, yet I’ve convinced myself he’s playing hard to get. Gabe is definitely a unique fellow.

Becca: I mean, come on, a relationship, Facebook-contained or not, is not sanctified until at least 20 people “like it” on their newsfeed.

For those few who would rather keep their love lives private: be prepared for the whispered speculation.

“Are they really dating?”

“Well it seems like it, but it’s not Facebook offish.”

“Oh. Well, they can’t be then.”

Julia: The day the two of us got engaged on Facebook must have been the best of my life. The fact that he initiated the request made it that much better. I was enthralled.

Immediately after I accepted, people started to “like” the engagement and leave comments. Although Gabe and I were clearly not dating in reality, and this was strictly a “facebook relationship,” not everyone realized this was the case. I loved it. Unfortunately, I had made the mistake of accepting family members as facebook friends.

Becca: Married. Engaged. Single. Widowed. It’s Complicated. In a relationship. In an open relationship. With so many status options, constant updating, and a plethora of “friends” with whom to status with, it’s simply hard to tell what’s a joke and what’s not.

“Married” couples may possibly be dating.

The kids who input “it’s complicated” could actually be having issues or could just be having fun.

If friends are “engaged,” is it possible they are secretly hooking up?

If two girls are “in a relationship,” are they questioning their sexuality?

Most important of all: WHY DO WE CARE?

Julia: So one day when I checked my account, I saw my grandmother’s sister had commented on the engagement. “Congratulations Julia!!!”

After that, my mother’s cousin: “Wait….really?”

Next my grandmother. But she didn’t comment. She called. She first asked if it was true that I was in fact getting married. I had to explain to her the concept of a “Facebook relationship.” She then talked, a long time, about how there is no need to rush a relationship. And that I am too young to be thinking of a lifelong commitment to a man.

Becca: Facebook inherently inspires stalking, which everyone, including myself can own up to, but is it really so necessary for the entire school to know the second a couple breaks up or gets back together?

Mike: It was the end of freshman year. I was at a friend’s house. We were bro-ing out, watching the Knicks get massacred by the Celtics—it was a regular day. That was until I had to take a phone call downstairs and left my Facebook in the hands of another friend Yeah, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

Becca: The thing is, the couples bring it on themselves. By posting that information, all their “friends” will most definitely see it. “Friends” cannot help it if the update pops up on their screen. In fact, while writing this, I received three of those notifications.

Mike: He engaged me to another guy, a good kid, but getting engaged on Facebook wasn’t on either of our minds. When I came back upstairs, I found that he had accepted the request. We were engaged. Harmless prank right?

I let it sit for a while, maybe a couple of weeks, and one Wednesday, when I came home from school, I had a special inbox waiting for me: from my aunt. The inbox pretty much said, “Michael, although I disagree with gay marriage and am opposed to same-sex marriage, I will support you on your sexual orientation.”

Becca: Maybe there’s a positive to the whole thing. Instead of having to share upsetting break-up news, friends can just read it for themselves and skip right to instant consolation. Perhaps relationship status updates save people from a little embarrassment.

Or, then again, create a little embarrassment.