Facebook rolled out a feature a couple weeks ago that allows your friends to, well, be nosy. The new featured called, “Ask,” appears to be Poke 2.0, allowing friends to send a message asking you to fill in the blanks you somehow left in your profile. It’s not limited to relationships status — you can request more info about work, hometown, etc. — but that is obviously the most invasive and private of all the personal information fields.
This feature can put anyone without a complete relationship status on the defensive, whether you’re in a relationship or not. In the real, tangible world, we all hear enough friends, family, co-workers, and even randos you just met, ask “What’s your timeline?”, “How are you still single?”, “When do you think he’ll propose?”, and “Are you seeing someone special?” Do we need to hear it online too?
Can’t we give our digital counterparts the break, we can never expect to get in real life, in a controlled and well-curated environment? Is nothing sacred anymore??
My Facebook is my personal space. It’s a beautiful thing that I get to decide how much information is shared. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a voyeuristic social media member; I am quite active. Between my tweets, blog, and status updates, my life could easily be described as public. However, I have my limits, and I have my reasons.
My Facebook profile will tell you something as personal as what sort of snack item I found lodged in my hair today, but it won’t tell you if I am in a relationship. Yes, you could spend some quality time with my 1k plus photos and infer that the boy with the glasses and crazy hair is my significant other, but it won’t be spelled out with a neat little bow in my information section. If you know me — like in real life — you’ll know I’ve been with my boyfriend for 2.5 years, and that we live together.
So, why don’t I just put that on my profile?
Because I’ve done that before. When I was younger, it was SUCH a big deal to be digitally linked. It took going steady to another level. But, with several breakups, and one painful dividing of the apartment items, I’ve become a little less public about that part of my life. As exciting as it is to share your love, it’s just as heartbreaking to explain why it went away, especially to hundreds of people with whom I am connected, but do not currently have an active relationship.
I’m not into defriending unless forced. I like having a network, and maybe my hobby is collecting people. As such, the compromise to having a robust digital network is that I must be a little more choosy about what I share on the platform.
Since I’ve worked in social media and digital marketing, I get what Facebook is doing, and it’s smart. The more information they have, the more valuable they are to advertisers, who increasingly want to target you on a granular level. But, collecting and sorting that level of big data is a huge job, a job that would requires millions of people. Facebook is essentially outsourcing the work to its users by encouraging them to fill in the holes of information.
It’s not a terrible thing. I like being served ads about Hello Kitty and retro clothing, rather than golfing. But, I also don’t necessarily need to barraged with fair trade engagement ring advertisements in my feed.
So, I won’t put my relationship status on my Facebook. I won’t give you an answer if you ask. Anyone who should know about it, already does, and that doesn’t include long lost high school acquaintances, cool people I’ve met once, potential work contacts, and Robin’s Brothers.
Heather is a contributing editor at the-dah. She is a Los Angeles based writer, improviser, snacker, social media mistress, and aspiring adult. Read more of her food-stained stories about growing up weird at Terrible-Twenties.com, or follow her digital alter ego @MissHezah on Twitter.
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