“When you check us into Bed, Bath and Beyond on Facebook, it makes me feel so close to you,” is one thing you will never hear me say. (“It’s not heavy, I’ll carry it—” that’s another.) I’m hypocritically delighted that my significant other is not on Facebook. This leaves me free to post status updates that make me out to be alternately charmingly flustered, self-deprecatingly witty, and wisely determined. If my girlfriend were on Facebook she might tell the world that I actually say things like “Do you think my thighs got bigger while I was sleeping?” and spend most of the day yelling at the dog to stop smacking her lips.
Still, several years in, if she suddenly felt driven to trade Facebook comments with her former neighbor’s piano teacher’s softball coach, I could adjust. Like I said, I’m semi-fluent in social media, having kept up with the @Jones, but when I look at friends attempting to navigate a relationship’s early stages in the eerie light of an iphone screen, I’m thrown. The last time I began dating, my Myspace page played Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie, texting was still called SMS, and Facebook was just a glint in Justin Timberlake’s agent’s eye. I doubt I could cope with the social media static my single friends seem to take in stride.
For example, one friend (we’ll call her Jill because that’s her name) met a promising Okcupid prospect at a Brooklyn bar. Later that night, when she checked her Facebook page she found she’d been tagged in eight photos. When, by the next day she had only commented on one, her date texted: Why are you ignoring me? When she didn’t immediately respond, Okcupid unfriended her.
Then there’s Terri (also her real name). After watching her lawyer dinner companion Instagram every morsel of their shared meal, Terri politely asked her to stop.
“I can’t focus on getting to know you with you posting pictures every few seconds,” she said.
“I can’t focus on posting pictures with you trying to get to know me,” her dinner partner replied.
Terri isn’t entirely blameless; she wasn’t sure whether the lawyer was joking, so she took a poll on Twitter.
Now obviously unhinged individuals will find a way to act out through any means available. Certainly, some Victorians were off-puttingly aggressive with their calling cards, one or two disturbed cave women tagged a new love’s wall when they’d barely made it to first base (That would be picking lice out of each other’s hair.) But in this peculiar time of public navel-gazing, when attention is split and selves are fractured into person and persona, it seems harder than ever for two former strangers to forge a lasting bond. Unfortunately I don’t have any answers, only a carefully cultivated Facebook presence and a strong urge to post a picture of my sparkly manicure to Instagram.
How do you guys manage?