Facebook: More qualified to confirm relationships than you

While making the rounds of telling my close friends that I was officially in a new relationship, almost all of them questioned what I meant by “official” — they did this by asking, “Facebook official?” I didn’t exactly know what to make of the constant question — part of me totally understood what they meant, and part of me thought, “Wait, do you not believe me? Or will you not take the new relationship seriously until it’s on Facebook?”

The fact that being “Facebook official” is the signal that things are serious is a true testament to how central it is in young people’s lives — it used to be that telling your parents about a new relationship was the signal that it was serious, and now Facebook is like the third parent that needs to know about changing relationship statuses in order for them to be legit.

But I will say that the constant questions about Facebook kept lingering in my head, as if not putting it on Facebook was equivalent to not wanting to tell people or wanting to keep it a secret — it’s like merely having a Facebook account implies you want to share all your personal information with everyone, so when you omit something or don’t put it on there, people infer you are trying to hide it. So by not putting the relationship status on Facebook, it seemed like the “officialness” of the relationship lost some credability.

Once the relationship status was on Facebook (not because of peer pressure), the responses were even more enthusiastic. Perhaps in a world — especially in the world of young people — in which there are lots of different classifications and descriptions for relationships of sorts (e.g. hooking up; seeing each other; dating; hanging out), the Facebook status update is the clearest way to dig through the muck and the adjectives to just say, “Yes, we are in a relationship.”

And young people also date for various amounts of time, and friends tend to grow desensitized to hearing about so-and-so “seeing someone” or “dating someone,” not knowing whether to get very excited about two people “officially dating” because the relationship might fizzle in a week. If you go to the trouble of changing the relationship status on Facebook and therefore telling every single family member, friend, and acquaintance on Facebook — which is likely hundreds of people — then your friends know that it probably isn’t a fling.

Being “Facebook official” does make a statement, and people’s asking about it is likely just a symptom of the breadth of social networking. But, it’s still concerning how much a website can come to define how others perceive your life — sure they believed me (allegedly) when I said it was official, but I’m pretty sure they believed Facebook more when it said things were official.


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