The Facebook Relationship Status: Does Facebook Even Have That?

Have you ever logged onto Facebook and thought to yourself, “was I just accidently routed to the op-ed section of a political site?” Because if so, that’s what I feel like every single time that I log onto my Facebook account. The 21st century hasn’t exactly been light on controversy, however instead of speaking out- millennialls seem to be Facebooking and Tweeting out.

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I could easily turn this article into a stream of complaints over people abusing a social networking site as a forum for political viewpoints. But I think it is more interesting to juxtapose how we use sites like Facebook and Twitter to dispel our every thought and viewpoint while simultaneously being unwilling to post our relationship status. Isn’t that an odd aspect of your life to hide when you are comfortable letting all 1500 of your ‘friends’ know your exact political positioning?

When our parents were being raised, you didn’t talk about politics, religion, or sex. Now, my various feeds seem to be full of all three. While I am the first to acknowledge that plenty of people do post their relationship status, I also have noticed that many do not. This may not seem odd, until you think about everything else people are willing to share. Political views, job updates, photos of what they were doing at 2 AM on Saturday night, etc. Then the lack of a relationship status- even if it is ‘single’- seems like this gaping hole out of the life summary we are given via social media.

Phases

In middle school, dating a new guy meant I got a shiny new beacon on my AIM profile. I practically dated a stream of boys based off of how good the addition of their names to my status would look. “Love you Forever Tyler” or “

Then in high-school, with the transition to Facebook and a heightening of critical thinking abilities, love was suddenly removed from any and every reference. Facebook became the perfect platform to acknowledge a relationship because it added the element of officialdom to the whole ordeal. Meanwhile it slyly tip toed around the “love” word we so casually threw around years before. All of this being said, getting a boyfriend was still a shiny new addition to your profile. Just in a slightly different way.

And then comes college. College is where Facebook relationships go to die. This may also be where relationships in general go to die, but we’ve already talked about that. For those who are resilient enough to sift through their hookup focused tinder-loving surroundings to find that special one, what is stopping them from posting it on Facebook?

Theories

Well, I have a few theories. The first is that I think that many people feel they will be treated differently by members of the opposite sex if it is officially confirmed they are dating someone. I know I didn’t put my relationships up on Facebook because I didn’t want to be treated differently by my guy acquaintances. If you aren’t dating the person you plan on marrying, do you really want a Facebook status screaming “unavailable! unavailable!” if someone of the opposite sex decides to check out your profile? I know I didn’t. Call that selfish; call that being a bad girlfriend; but we live in an era where there is nothing left to wander about one another. If a guy thinks I’m cute- let him act on it, and let me be the one to tell him I am dating someone. That’s how it used to work, and I’m all for reverting to tradition on this one.

The second, and more unfortunate theory is that it is harder to cheat; cheating is prevalent; so relationship statuses are avoided. Cheating has been cited as one of the top reasons that college aged people break up. We live in a world where there are many blurred lines when it comes to ‘hanging out’ with those of the opposite sex. I think for a lot of people, if a relationship isn’t posted anywhere, it feels less official. Say a guy is hitting on you at the bar, but you suspect he has a girlfriend because he is tagged with one particular girl in all of his recent pictures. I think psychologically many would feel okay accepting the advances as long as it wasn’t spelled out in front of them that the guy had a girlfriend. This is even if every other aspect of the guy’s page made it clear he was dating someone.

The third theory is an undeveloped one, but the basis of it is that the couple does not see the importance of Facebook; or does not want to give Facebook the power of defining their relationship. My honest assessment of this reasoning is that I think this is one of those situations where one person truly feels this way, and the other pretends to agree. I think when one person preaches ‘the right to privacy’ or ‘a need to defy the norm,’ they really are making excuses to cover up the underlying truth of either theory 1 or 2.

But this is all of my potential theorizing. To give you a more balanced perspective, I asked around to those who I knew were in relationships, not posted on Facebook. Here is what they had to say:

“Sh**s just awkward if things go South.”

“Relationship status is immediately judged by everyone. You’re judged for being in one (for better or worse), and you’re judged on who your significant other is. I prefer to avoid that judgment and start fresh with anyone I meet”

“It just never came up. We never even really thought about it. Neither of us uses Facebook for stuff like that anymore so it seems pointless.”

The first response can definitely be conducive to a legitimate privacy concern. I think we can all agree- if you are going to break up every other week, we’d rather you keep it off the internet. The second response goes hand in hand with theory number 2. And the third response paves way for an even bigger discussion- in what context is Facebook relevant to millennials anymore?

Facebook relationships seem to be a rarity among college-aged kids now. Whether it is a portrayal issue or a privacy concern, there are an array of reasons to keep them off our pages. And it is the psychology of the reasoning that is the interesting part. So next time you start a relationship, ask yourself why you really aren’t posting it. Are you the rare privacy seeker, or are there other motives? That is for you to figure out.


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