Status: It's complicated
It has dawned on me recently that the creators of Facebook are out to ruin people's lives. I am not talking about pictures from wild weekends of doing shots and peeing in the streets ruining careers or college acceptances, or the fact that there are probably support groups for Farmville addicts. The real life-ruining factor that Facebook has provided the world with is the pressure-building relationship status.
Nothing puts more unnecessary stress on a new couple then that stupid pink heart plaguing every friend's news feed. Back in the day, a guy would simply ask a girl to dinner and a movie. If it happened a few times, and a month in you have decided you have not bugged the crap out of each other yet, you may make things official. In the retro era, guys would "pin" their girlfriends, girls sported their boyfriend's varsity jackets, and guys would carry their lady's books to class for them. These simple little things just showed "the world" you were together. Flash forward to present day, and the whole world knows in an instant that you are now in a relationship, you have ended a relationship or things are complicated — all because of an Internet profile edit.
Now, some of you may be wondering what the big deal is. It is just a little pink heart, and no one really truly cares who you are dating and what is going on in your romantic life. To those of you I say, you are obviously single and living it up with no relationship prospects, or have been happily in a Facebook-official relationship for quite some time now with no sign of it ending just yet. Take it from someone who in the past six months of her life has been through the trials and tribulations Facebook has to offer a person — that stupid pink heart causes more problems than it is worth.
Let us first look at relationships that are fresh and new, and what Facebook has the potential to do to them. OK. You are single and ready to mingle. You have prospective mates, and you are enjoying the lot of them. You get closer with one of them, which leads to dating, and then the question you have been avoiding all along, "How about making it Facebook official?" Doubts about whether you are ready speed through your head as you uncomfortably try to figure out what to say. After all, this is Facebook, so this question means BIG commitment. You can also have this scenario: You are with a person, happy as clams, but they are not bringing up making your relationship Facebook official. They refer to you as their significant other in front of friends and family, but there has been no change or question of change in link that puts his or her profile with yours. This causes anxiety and insecurity about how your significant other really feels about the relationship.
Since when did putting an announcement on a social networking site determine whether a relationship was valid? The sad truth is we are all guilty of using Facebook as the determining factor about relationships. If a guy or girl was talking you up, and you later went to add them on Facebook and saw they had a significant other, you would back off. Worse, if there is no relationship status (that's right players, we know all about the it "doesn't say single or not, we just don't post any relationship status" trick), and you later find out that the person you like was in a relationship, you would be mad that they did not have it on their profile to begin with. All these issues posed by that stupid little pink heart.
Now, we have the break-up side of things. Anyone who has been in a relationship that has ended during the blow up of Facebook will agree that there are many dimensions and layers to a Facebook break-up. First of all, as if a broken heart was not bad enough, now you have the awkward, who is going to change their status back to single first. No matter who it is, the pit in your stomach remains just the same if you are the "dumpee." Secondly, there is dealing with how you treat the "ex." There is a Facebook stalker in every one of us, and the severity of how creepy you are comes with poking and prying from an ex. Some of us have to delete the ex from our friends because you do not want to see pictures of them enjoying their single life, or worse with their new significant other. Yet another reason why the pink heart is out to ruin lives. If you have decided you want to try to stay civil, or just be a creeper and check out their profile everyday, you stay friends with the ex. The day you see his or her name next to a pink heart with someone else's is like the world crashing down upon you — if you do not have someone yourself.
People put way too much pressure on relationships as it is. There really is no need for social networking sites to cause unnecessary anxiety. This is the equivalent to the MySpace Top 8 uproar. If you get moved, then it obviously means the friend is upset with you. People switch to "it's complicated" just to show their boy or girlfriend that they are mad, instead of just communicating in person. Hell, I have a friend who would break up with her boyfriend on Facebook every time they fought just to make a statement to him. It is so dumb. So, I end with this. Facebook is not a way to validate your relationship. Just because you post cutesy albums of "Photobooth Fun," and finally make the commitment to the pink heart does not mean your relationship is any realer than it was before that. It is how you treat it in reality, not just in cyberspace that counts. So, maybe we should consider going back to the days of varsity jackets and carrying books, because honestly it's those little things that show you care more.
Megan DiGuilio is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in journalism and media studies. She is the former opinions editor of The Daily Targum. Her column "Dirty Pop" runs on alternate Thursdays.