Alyssa Sanders is an undergraduate student living in Long Island, New York. On a Sunday afternoon she meets her four best friends for lunch at their favorite sub shop. As they sit down to discuss the latest happenings within each of their lives, Sanders can’t help but immediately blurt out,
“Daniel and I got back together.”
Four sets of eyes go wide and the questions start pouring out at lightning speed. After multiple attempts to calm her frazzled friends, Sanders explains that the pair felt incredibly unhappy about the initial breakup. After careful speculation the two decided they were fully committed to trying the relationship again.
One friend sitting to the left of Sanders remained unconvinced, “So is it official?”
Sanders shook her head, perplexed, “Yes, that was the whole point of me telling you guys.”
The friend rolled her eyes, laughing, “Yes, but is it Facebook Official?”
“Facebook Official” has become a widely adopted term many believe to be the only way to mark the validity of a relationship.
Unlike the official paper work, prewritten vows, and extravagant celebrations that many individuals utilize to a mark newfound marriage, besides public documentation on social media, little can be done to “officially” declare a relationship besides word of mouth.
So why are people so intent on publicly declaring a relationship, in order to express validity and exclusivity of a bond?
We live in a world where the term “relationship” will have a vastly different meaning for different people. To one person the term is used only to describe individuals that are intimately exclusive. To another this term may signify a connection, but does not imply that there is any need to exclusiveness.
A study posted in Psychology Today by Gwendolyn Seidman, explains that even the specified term “Facebook Official”, or “FBO” can signify entirely different things to each member in the relationship.
“Typically, women feel that going FBO implies exclusivity and seriousness of the relationship. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to commit to being FBO in order to maintain the image that his female counterpart is taken while continuing to pursue other relationships simultaneously because men attach less seriousness to the FBO status,” Seidman explains.
As Sanders recounts the full conversation to me through a blurry video screen, she admits that immediately following the lunch, she logged on to Facebook and changed her profile settings so it read that she was in a relationship.
“I feel like I have to because other people are judging us for not publicly posting the relationship. I shouldn’t care what people think, but I can’t help it,” Sanders responds sheepishly.
The irony of this matter is that Seidman also discusses a study that revealed individuals who post highly disclosing information and pictures about their relationship on social media are ranked as less liked in comparison to other peers.
Similar to many other individuals, Sanders is caught in a state of perplexity and confusion. If she doesn’t publicize her relationship on Facebook, people voice that they think it is an illegitimate relationship. However if she does publicize the exclusivity of her relationship through status’ and pictures, people may decide she is annoying.
The bottom line is, no matter what you post someone is going to appreciate it and someone else is likely going to hate it. If you’re only posting a relationship, status, or photo out of fear your connection is not legitimate enough, this is a problem no social media platform will fix. Publicize what makes you genuinely happy, rather than publicizing content solely to make others feel happier about you.