JONATHAN ERNST / Reuters / Corbis
For many people, the manner in which they present themselves on Facebook has come to mirror how they see themselves in veridical life. Photos broadcast the playfulness they ‘re having, condition updates say what ‘s on their mind and a deepen in kinship condition announces their handiness, committedness or something in between.
Of these mini-declarations, relationship condition is the alone one that immediately involves another person. That puts two people in the social-networking mirror, and that, to borrow a Facebook give voice, can make things complicated. ( Read “ How not to Be Hated on Facebook ” )
There are six relationship categories Facebook users can choose from : single, in a relationship, engaged, married, it ‘s complicated, and in an loose kinship. ( Users can decline to list a status, but Facebook estimates that approximately 60 % of its users do, with “ single ” and “ married ” the most common statuses. ) The inaugural four categories are pretty self-explanatory, but when should you use them ? A Jane Austen of Facebook has so far to emerge, let alone a Miss Manners, and no one seems to have a clasp on what the social norms ought to be .
“ You change your Facebook status when it ‘s official, ” says Liz Vennum, a 25-year-old repository living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. “ When you ‘re okay with calling the person your girlfriend or boyfriend. Proper separation etiquette is not to change the condition until after you ‘ve had the ‘we need to talk ‘ lecture. then you rush each other home plate ( or back to the iPhone ) to be the beginning to change your status to one. ”
not everyone agrees, of course. Some couples are together for years but fail to announce their coupledom to their social network. “ Some idiot tried to convince me that [ my kinship is ] not legitimate because I do n’t have it on Facebook, ” says Annie Geitner, a college sophomore who has had the lapp boyfriend for more than a class. “ So that made me even more compulsive to not to put it up there. ” Others, like Trevor Babcock, consider the Facebook condition a kinship deal-breaker. “ I ‘m not will to date anyone entirely unless she feels comfortable going Facebook-public, ” he says .
One common theme among romantically inclined Facebook users is that there are about infinite ways for the Facebook relationship condition to go awry. There ‘s the significant other who does n’t want to list his or her affair ( causing a rupture in the real-world relationship ) ; the accidental change that alerts friends to a nonexistent separation ( causing endless irritation ) ; but worse than both is when the truth spreads uncontrollably.
Lesley Spoor and Chris Lassiter got engaged the night before Thanksgiving. The couple thought about calling their families immediately, but alternatively decided to wait a day and surprise everyone at Thanksgiving dinner .
The problem, of course, was Facebook. The morning after the big night, Spoor changed her relationship status. “ I got all airheaded since I ‘m old and engaged for the first gear fourth dimension, ” says Spoor of her interchange from “ in a relationship ” to “ engaged. ” “ I thought it had to be confirmed by [ my fiancé ] before it would update, though. obviously not. ”
The wife of a guy who went to high gear school with Spoor ‘s fiancé — a womanhood Spoor barely knew — was the first to post a congratulatory message on Spoor ‘s Facebook wall. Spoor realized her err and deleted the message, but by then it was excessively recently ; her future in-law had seen the message, and the status update, and called to ask what was going on. How do you explain to your family that you told the Internet you just got engaged before you told them ? “ It caused a huge battle, ” she says .
But relationship condition does n’t have to be a beginning of confusion and despair. Emily and Michael Weise-King were in accomplished agreement about their status : they decided to change themselves from “ engaged ” to “ married ” in the middle of their February 2009 wedding reception .
“ It was after cocktails but before the first course at dinner, ” says Mrs. Weise-King. silent in their bridal overdress, the couple whipped out their iPhones — they ‘d done a test carry ahead of meter and determined that they had to use the web browser and not the simple iPhone app — and switched status in front of bewilder marry guests. ( They besides uploaded a photograph. ) Throughout the rest of the night, Weise-King would occasionally glance down at her Facebook profile, “ the way I ‘d glance at my call when I first gear got engaged. ” Their status has not changed since.
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