The [Relationship] Status Update


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Over the years, Facebook and other social networking sites have introduced a host of etiquette rules to adhere to when interacting online. Many of them are obvious and simply a virtual set of social “dos and don’ts” that already exist in the real world: do return a message in a timely manner; don’t be rude to your peers and elders; so on and so forth.

One foggy area for me has always been the matter of updating relationship statuses. In real life, people don’t necessarily go about announcing when they’re dating or NOT dating someone to the first 500 people in their social circles. On Facebook, however, it takes only a click to send that memo. And when that monumental update is made, it’s one that always seems to show up in all of your friends’ newsfeeds – regardless of your level of interaction. It’s as if even Facebook knows that relationship news is the juiciest and makes sure to blast it from every end.

Considering the elusiveness and safety of appearing “offline” (even when you obviously aren’t) and the ability to witness social breaking news from the safety of a computer screen, I’ve always felt a sense of discomfort when I log on to Facebook and see “Jane Doe went from ‘being in a relationship’ to ‘single'”. Why? I’m not really sure myself.

It’s as if I’m witnessing a lovers’ quarrel right in front of me. I instantly think,”I shouldn’t be here! This is not my business!” And to add to the feeling of intrusion, I know that about 500+ are reading the same intimate headline. Suddenly, I’m embarrassed to be apart of this dismal event and even feeling awkward for the couple in question as their dirty laundry hangs to dry.

In real life, you don’t go out and tell the world the minute you break up with someone, so I’ve always wondered where people get the gusto and bravado to make the public announcement on the Internet? It’s something I’ve never possessed, even though I’d consider myself a pretty open person. Ask me about a previous relationship, and I’ll be honest, but to tell the world right after it happened? No sirree, I’m not that open.

Obviously it’s just dishonest and awkward to have your status say you’re dating someone (especially if that person is on Facebook him/herself) when you’re NOT, so it’s reasonably necessary to make that update when the flame goes out in your relationship. But what about when you BEGIN a relationship? What is the real reason people find it necessary to make this known to hundreds of people – many of them friends and family but some barely acquaintances.

Is it because they’re simply so in love that they’re bursting to share the feeling with the world? Perhaps, the couple enjoys attention and feeds off the shine of the limelight. Could it even be that their lives are so invested in the presence of Facebook that they feel it’s almost injustice not to share the news with the cyber world?

The thing is: telling the world that you’re dating someone is obviously joyous news, but to invite people into your business if/when things turn sour — it’s something that simply tags along with the decision. I think it’s fine do so if you want to because I strongly live by the mentality of “Live and let live.” However, there is one serious issue I do have with people who DO love to change their relationship status, and that’s with those who get angry and defensive when others want to know more. It’s with people who think it’s insensitive when others feel it’s okay to leave their personal thoughts and comments about the decision. Really? You’re the one who told the world to begin with — did you not foresee this happening down the line?

At times, the exes preach about the right to privacy and become aggressive about getting some. But seriously – I think the reasonable right to be left alone about your love life soars out the window with the original status update.Yes, it is personal business, but it ceased to be when you put it up on Facebook to begin with. Should’ve thought of that before you sent out the public announcement the first time…

Fortunately many will show some respect and turn the other way as if they are ignorant to the news. There are many, however, who live for this type of gossip and it’s just something that comes with being that open!

So, do you openly share your relationship business with the world? Why?

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6 thoughts on “The [Relationship] Status Update

  1. After several instance of public airing of dirty laundry with wars of updating the relationship status over and over again, I had to finally adopt a new dating policy: No relationship status update until we get married.

    In fact, I actually went further and decided not to friend women I was dating. They comment on your stuff all the time and can get snarky when things are rocky, so it’s best (I’ve found) to just acknowledge personal spaces and separate worlds early on. Should a wedding happen, I’ll happily consent to changing the relationship status. Until then I don’t want everyone wondering what’s going on with me because my relationship status keeps flickering on and off like a bug zapper.

    • Wow, that’s really interesting. How do girls take it when you refuse to be their friends on Facebook? I would almost assume that opens a new realm of mistrust making them wonder WHY you don’t want to even be friends?

      And I am 100% with you on changing the status when you’re married b/c unlike when you’re dating/not dating someone, that IS something that you’re sending actual tangible announcements for so I think it’s viable to mirror that on Facebook too. Plus, that’s also worth sharing with the world!

      • I had an extremely unstable stalker years back and an annoying public break up on Facebook with a girl, so they all pretty much understand it. Some are huffy, but generally, those are the one’s that suck anyway. I openly show them my Facebook and let them look through it to their heart’s content, but the whole friending thing and then having them post on every single thing I post is a little much.

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