Deny it all you want, but there was a time when a relationship wasn’t official unless it was “Facebook official.” Whether this electronic proclamation was rooted in a true expression of happiness, just a way to brag to your friends, or specifically used to ward off any other potential suitors, relationship status acceptance was a major milestone for any new undergraduate couple. If you weren’t Facebook official in college, there was always a reason, and unless you were both cool with it just being a hookup, it usually didn’t end well.
As we emerged from our collegiate circles into the real world, however, the dynamic of Facebook changed alongside our relationships. Once a dire social essential, Facebook is now more of a reluctant necessity for staying in touch with distant family and friends. Relationships, not too long ago easy to come by, easy to abandon, and centered around 2:00am on the weekends, have since been replaced by awkward dates and a general unwillingness to waste time with a person you couldn’t be serious about down the road. Out of the same collegiate social circle, you can now date multiple people at once and not have your reputation ruined, although doing so is obviously not something you want to broadcast.
Facebook has become less important, and with it, relationships more undefined, yet the book of faces remains omnipresent. You can claim not to care, and do so genuinely a lot of times, but not being “Facebook official” with your significant other when both of you are on the site just ends up being as awkward as insisting on it. So what happens when you get “in a relationship” as a postgrad these days? Lucky for you, I just got to experience it first hand.
People think that the day you go Facebook official is the day you got together.
Perhaps a hangover from a time not too long ago when everyone knew everyone’s business anyhow, people assume that if they don’t know something, it doesn’t exist. You could have been together already for a month or a year, but the day it goes Facebook official is the day of note to the public. If someone on Facebook wasn’t aware of the gradual and natural progression of your relationship, all of a sudden you are JUMPING into a relationship SO QUICKLY simply because of their own obliviousness. When you explain that you simply were making sure the relationship was real before making it far more serious and public, somehow YOU are made out to be the weirdo.
You get inundated with requests for information.
This of course leads to family and friends alike wanting to know the entire story instantly upon seeing the news. Luckily, talking to them about your boyfriend or girlfriend tends to come rather easily, but still, the level of demand is as absurd as the immediacy of the requests. Without any shortage of reality TV to keep up with, parents, siblings, and friends still need to know everything and they need to know it immediately. Make sure you accept the relationship request when you have some free time, because you’re not going to be doing anything but answering questions for a while.
The different tiers of your friends become clear.
There are those who already knew, and those who didn’t because you’re not that close. This may be more prominent for girls, as I simply didn’t tell some good long distance friends because it never came up or we hadn’t had a serious talk in a month or two, but my girlfriend got hit with a hilarious number of “Why didn’t you tell me?” messages that firmly established the sender as only a mid-tier friend. The funny thing with relationships that happen independent of Facebook is that the important people already know ahead of time, relegating the actual online status to even lesser importance.
Everyone wants to creep.
Since then, I have been friend requested by a best friend and a grandmother, both of whom I have never met. Naturally, the friend got left in the cue for being a creep, and the grandmother got the “Acquaintance” status just like my own extended family. Perhaps only more blatant for girls, Facebook friends of both sides start clicking on the readily available link now to do some research of their own. Why not just ask their respective friend in the relationship or simply wait until the inevitable face to face meeting? Because the need for immediate judgment apparently overrules normal social interaction and patience alike.
Know what you’re getting yourself into.
No one really thinks that collegiate relationships are that serious, Facebook official or not, nor do they expect them to last. When you make a big deal about it as a postgrad, however, it is a completely different experience. Both of your entire families will now know. Simply the act of “going public” is a declaration that you are serious enough to progress. If you aren’t ready to exchange decently long messages with a grandmother not your own or accept an invitation to Thanksgiving, you have think before you act.
Does going “Facebook official” matter as a postgrad? In some ways, it’s a bigger deal that it’s ever been. In others, it has completely lost its importance. Facebook as a postgrad is definitely different, however, and if you aren’t prepared, you’re going to be making the same embarrassing mistakes your parents and other postgrads do soon enough.