Recently, a friend updated his relationship status on Facebook to the now-familiar status of ‘X is now in a relationship’ preceded by the ubiquitous red heart. He received a barrage of comments specially alluding to the fact that he has been in said relationship for years now.

Last year I saw another funny thing on my feed. In the varied flow of interesting links, photo uploads and news of people ‘friending’ each other, two consecutive entries stood out. (As they appeared on my Wall)

(broken heart) A is no more in a relationship. one minute ago

(red heart) A is now in a relationship. three minutes ago

Another barrage of comments followed, referring to the short-lived affections of the Facebook generation and likening relationships to a certain brand of instant noodles.

What had actually happened was this: A had logged into his account from his girlfriend’s computer. He got up to visit the bathroom and she slipped in and changed his relationship status. It was something they had argued about earlier, with her campaigning for an ‘open to all’ status and him pushing for being discrete. When he returned, his sharp eyes spotted it. He threw a fit of course, but not before changing the status back to its former. It was a private conflict in the couple but it caused much mirth among their friends.

I’ve myself been in a relationship for awhile now, a fact that neither of us has tried to conceal from the people in our lives. One conversation I initiated early on, was how we both felt about being ‘open’ about our relationship, on Facebook. I thought it especially important, in the face of what happened with my friends. My significant other shrugged and told me he didn’t really care either way, he was rarely on the site anyway. I still haven’t made up my mind what I feel about this.

It’s not about whether to be open or secretive about my relationship. Everyone who matters to either of us has seen us together, knows beyond doubt that, yes, we are a couple. On the other hand, that seemingly simple act of changing the status is actually a loaded one. It puts the relationship in the spotlight, all of a sudden. Most people on his Friends list and mine will feel nearly compelled to say something in jest or at very least, a congratulatory vein.

There is a certain scary ‘officialness’ about this update. It’s almost like signing a contract together, eerily similar to a marriage agreement or prenuptial. It is not that the thought of a deeper commitment itself is scary, but a relationship has to be ready for that in its own time. And at this stage, it’s not. Funnily enough, by the time it will be ready for that ‘Finally on Facebook’ update, it will provoke even more jest and attention precisely because it comes so much later.

I wonder if the creators of this social network ever thought that their offering would someday become a key reference point in the relationships of connected people worldover. Relationships are tricky enough as they are. I’m wondering, do we really need the complication of yet another question?

“Are we ready to Facebook this?”

Note: A version is posted at Yahoo! Real Beauty

11 thoughts on “Finally On Facebook”
  1. you know, i think facebooking your status is like putting the final thappa on your relationship status.

    i mean it makes it so public that any change to it will mean a lot of public drama and hungaama.

    we all love masaaledaar break up and hook up stories… dont we?

    1. @Harish: Exactly! (on the final thappa thing) As regards the public drama, I suppose that differs from individual to individual. I don’t like to dramatize my life but I can’t be bothered with hiding away things that I feel, as if they’re things to be ashamed of. It’s a tough call what to share and what not, especially knowing that reading/listening world is like vultures, ready to pounce at the slightest provocation.

  2. I had this conversation with my boyfriend after we’d been together for about 6 months. At that point, to me, it seemed we were ‘ready’ to make it Facebook-official. He didn’t mind either way, he didn’t care about it. But I kind of wanted to for some reason, just felt like a little ‘step forward’, would let the people I hadn’t seen in a while know about it, and also, like you said, I was conscious of the fact that if we left it much later everyone would just think it’s silly. We got the sarcastic ‘oh my god, really?’ and ‘Finally, you’ve been together for ages!’ replies, but at least it’s over and done with now.

    Plus Facebook is usually good for allowing you to remove things from your wall. Just click the little cross to the top-right of the relationship update on your wall, and it will disappear from your wall, plus the newsfeed of everyone else. Result! You can change your status and no one will notice!

    1. @Raven: You’re right. I’ve thought of that too and figured I’d do just that, as and when I decided to Facebook my relationship. But it doesn’t seem to be a feature that a lot of people are familiar with. What’s more, it seems easier to just not update the status than go to all the trouble of doing so and hiding the notification. On the other hand, there’s enough of drama revolving around why the Facebook profile shows ‘single’ when the person really is in a relationship. Ooof…it’s just way too complicated!

  3. Hi ,

    In this so-called “tech-era”, Social Media (for e.g Facebook) has become an integral part of our daily social lives. So, I feel, its very important how you manage your social-media profiles.
    As far as “Relationship Status” is concerned, as rightly said it needs to be decided as soon as a couple hooks up (falls in love and reciprocates their feelings). All these points may sound so technical and un-romantic but are very essential if the you want the romance to stay without any misunderstandings.

    Partial Solution to the problem:
    Imagine A and B gets in a relationship. A is keen to change the status but B isn’t. Then B can control the privacy setting to decide whom (non-mutual friends) B wants to reveal about their relationship.
    The reason for No-Reveal-about-Relationship may not be just be because of “double-dating” but there can be various issues like family on Facebook etc etc…. and also reason like you were not that tech-savvy when you started going around …..
    Lets all learn to manage our profiles to be viewed by others..

    1. @Ronit Roy: That’s a tech solution to a human problem. But it also feels like a bit of a cop-out. As in, why change your relationship status if you don’t want anyone to see it? It’s sort of like writing a blog and then locking it so no one can see it. What’s the point?

  4. Hey,
    Two things:
    – If the movie is anything to go by, the relationship factor does seem huge in the equation of facebook popularity. (Maybe these days, “are you (together) on facebook?” is synonymous with “is it official?”)

    – It is also possible to remove items from one’s newsfeed, true? Doing so would easily remove the commenting barrage. Maybe people that get the comments don’t really mind the same. Especially as somehow even the quieter ones talk a lot on the net. 🙂 moi included.

    1. @CK: Do see my reply to Ronit Roy’s comment. And yes, I agree with your first point. But I think it’s bringing in an additional layer of complexity. ‘Is it official’ is complicated enough, what with different people seeing the concept of ‘official’, differently. Is it Facebook-official is yet another dimension. As in the example of my own relationship, Facebook doesn’t figure prominently in the boyfriend’s life but it does in mine.

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