With what used to require actually speaking to someone face-to-face, beginning, continuing, and ending a romantic relationship can now be achieved through a single click of a button. Updating your Facebook Relationship Status is an easy way to declare your newfound place on the dating spectrum, taking what used to be a private affair and turning it into a public announcement to be judged and commented upon.
So why do we bother?
The Facebook relationship status is a seemingly straightforward solution to a formerly ambiguous dating world. Before, individuals had to go so far as asking another person to date them. Now they can take their pick from Facebook’s provided drop-down menu of relationship statuses and just like that they’re ‘in a relationship’.
With many courtship clichés thrown out the window, the process of defining a relationship has become increasingly vague. The Facebook Relationship Status provides a tool for clarity and structure.
We’re dating. See? It’s ‘Facebook official’.
The term ‘Facebook official’ has become so ingrained in popular speech that it’s important to consider its social meaning. It goes beyond privately committing yourself to another and becomes a shout to the online world that you’re no longer romantically available.
A change in a relationship status can be a positive and healthy indication of commitment in a relationship, but it can also be a destructive mechanism within a relationship.
One moment you’re ‘in a relationship’ and the next ‘it’s complicated’? In just a few minutes, you told your significant other, as well as hundred of online viewers, that something might be wrong in your relationship.
If or when your status makes it’s next transition to ‘single,’ you’re heartbreak becomes a trivial post on someone else’s newsfeed and your left to answer to the handful of curious viewers asking what happened?
These labels that are used to define our romantic relationships create expectations for behavior and exclusivity within the relationship. When these labels are declared in a Facebook Relationship Status, those expectations are magnified and become available for public scrutiny.
Herein lies the consequence of broadcasting intimacy.