Deconstructing Facebook January 29, 2009Posted by Onely in Dating, Everyday Happenings, Food for Thought, Pop Culture: Scourge of the Onelys.
Tags: bella depaulo, ex-boyfriend on facebook, facebook, game playing, I'm not as good at tagging as Lisa is, marriage mythology, matrimaniacs, polar bear club, profile photos
It’s a pandemic, people! In the last week, several singles close to me have expressed distress and depression after logging in to their Facebook accounts:
“All my friends have these pictures of them with their spouses; everyone is in a couple except me.” “My ex-boyfriend changed his Status. Now he’s not single but I still am.” Or, worst of all, “My ex friended me and I accepted and sent a nice little note and he sent me a Happy New Year video card of him doing Polar Bear Club and it was thirty seconds of him leaping in the water and then a whole nother minute of some woman towelling him off lovingly with googly eyes oh my god.”
The interesting thing about social networking sites is that we see reflected in their usage the importance that our society puts on coupled, romantic relationships. “Status” is one of the top items listed in a profile, up there with where you live and when you were born. “Status” includes only coupled or non not-coupled (with the usual variants for divorce, etc). And just the rhetoric of the word “status” (a rank in relation to others, place in a hierarchy) further impresses on the reader the idea of coupling as a race, a goal, an achievement.
If you select “single” Status you automatically get ads for dating services, so that you can participate in the race for Status change. There is no option for “single but leave me the hell alone, you corporate matrimaniacs.” If you select “married” or “in a relationship” or “engaged” (Engaged? I’m shocked they don’t have an option for “going steady”), there’s a cache that goes with that. Users feel a little frission of triumph when they “change status” to some form of coupled. Look at me! No, no–look at us!
I mostly feel happy for the status-changers, I do, although I have to gag the cynical voice in me saying “fifty percent of marriages. . . fifty percent of marriages. . . ” However, I would like for people to feel the same sense of pride and accomplishment when they announce their status as “Single”, and for their friends to feel proud of and happy for them as well. But until that happens, these sites will be full of emotional landmines for singles.
But you can avoid stepping on those mines! Facebook can be fun. All everyone needs to do is follow some simple guidelines! Copious Readers, we’d love to hear what you think of:
ONELY’S UNOPINIONATED OPTIONS FOR FACEBOOKING
1. Your profile picture should include only one person: you. (Substituting a photo of a kitten is ok as well.) Do not post a shot of you and your sig other, cheeks smooshed together to fit in the frame. Put a ton of these in your Facebook albums, sure, but the profile pic is for you alone. Doesn’t your spouse have his/her own page? Or do you file Facebook jointly, like taxes? That’s just creepy.
2. If it’s killing you not to put your partner in your profile picture with you, then select as your Status “in a relationship with” or “married to” and link to your partner’s Facebook page. (If they don’t have their own page, see point 1.)
3. Add only people who you know and like. Do not add people just because you went to school with them, or because you have a mutual friend. Do not add people to increase your friend count so it looks as if you are widely beloved even though you’re not because you spend most of your time with your cheek smooshed next to your sig other’s. And do not, not, not under any circumstances add an ex to your facebook list, unless you truly respect and enjoy the person on a platonic level. Otherwise, let the games begin!
4. Realize that a lot of posturing goes on in Facebook pages. Post at least one crappy, unflattering picture of yourself so that it looks as if you’re not posturing.
Copious Readership, what other Unopinionated Options for Facebooking are there?