The Social Implications of Going “Facebook Official”

Ever since the dawn of social media, it seems that society is more keen to share with the general public everything about their lives – from where they just grabbed a delicious barbeque sandwich to pictures from their high school graduation, a whole smorgasbord of personal information floods Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Tumblr, etc. But why is sharing all of that information so important? Why do we have to notify our friends every move we make? Is it because it all boils down to everyone simply seeking approval?

Relationship statuses on your favorite social media site are important (depending on the sort of user you are). If you were mostly engaged in social activities for the sake of spreading word about how your life is going to friends and family, it would be important to share details of your engagement and eventually marriage. If you’re lying about your identity, however, lying about your marriage is key. Either way, as TIME online discussed in its 2009 article Your Facebook Relationship Status: It’s Complicated by Claire Suddath begged the question – is your relationship status official only when someone makes the change on Facebook?

To some, keeping friends and family attune to your personal life involves your relationship status so why not update them on the gruesome details like when you switch from engaged to single? Others would argue that it isn’t so binding – fake marriages and engagements are rampant among teenagers who are more commitment –phobes than ready to admit to anything official.

Without warning, Facebook made it easier for those in the dating world to gauge their relationship. Holding off on changing your status to “in a relationship” from “single” can hurt the partner to the point that they wouldn’t like to have any semblance of a relationship. Jumping the gun, meanwhile, can also lead a person to break it off simply because they weren’t ready for anything serious.

How “serious” can an online relationship status be when so many people joke about being married to “Batman” or “Christopher Walken”? Or is it possible to be tricked into thinking your crush is single simply based on his relationship status on the internet? According to Adam Hyde et. al, collaboration online has also led things like the loaded term “friendship” on social media sites which “cost[s] us richness of our social life” (Social Media Reader pg. 59). Something as delicate as an intimate relationship, then, can be hampered by technology: “…there is no way for software to elegantly map the true dynamic nuances of social life” (pg. 59).

Going “official” can mean a plethora of things to various people and can make or break a relationship. Back in high school, I asked my (now ex-) boyfriend not to post anything about us getting back together after months of being separated. My friends and family would be enraged that I’d taken him back. I remember him joking that that meant we weren’t official – not sharing it online was the equivalent to not having a public relationship in society to him. And – he was right. I was trying to hide the relationship not only online but in real life too.

What does Facebook official mean and why is it so important compared to your relationship status in physical society?

For fun, here’s a video to illustrate the absturdity behind going “Facebook official”:

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2 thoughts on “The Social Implications of Going “Facebook Official”

  1. I find it completely ridiculous that so many people think that if it is not on Facebook, it is not official. Some things don’t always need to be posted. There are certain events in my life that I feel safe enough to share with the Facebook public, but my dating life is MY life, and it is not necessary that everyone knows when I start dating someone or break up with someone. I even have my relationship status set to private just to remove any temptation to update that part of my Facebook profile. I don’t want to be become part of the majority who feel the need to post every little aspect of their lives for their Facebook world to see. I don’t mind seeing when people start dating; that’s their business to post that publicly. As for me, though, it’s my business and my private life. Personal and intimate information is kept off my Facebook page. Keeping certain parts of my life off Facebook also helps me feel as if I still haven’t completely sold my soul to the internet. I know, it’s a weird thing to say, but that’s kind of how I see it. In my mind, going “Facebook official” means that a person puts a little too much stock in making public every part of their dating life. Some things are best left to the physical world; an intimate relationship is one of them.

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