Single. In a Relationship. Engaged. It’s Complicated. Single.
Two acquaintances got engaged. My best friend from the third grade got married. And a former colleague got divorced — for the second time. I know these things, not because I’ve spoken to them recently. I know these things because of Facebook.
I’m fascinated by what people choose to share about their romantic lives on the Internet. Some are coy, secretive. Others define themselves by their relationship, blogging ceaselessly about significant others or leaving their wedding portrait up as their Facebook profile picture for months, if not years.
It’s another kind of PDA (public display of affection). Changing your Facebook status to In a Relationship is the new Making Out on Park Benches.
But once you’ve gone public and shared your happiness with several hundred of your closest friends, what happens if your relationship ends?
I’ve only met Lauren White a couple of times, but I feel like I’ve known her forever. Her blog, Raymi The Minx (www.raymitheminx.com), has amassed an impressive following over the years. On my computer screen, she is a stunning, unsmiling woman who painstakingly documents minutiae like new outfits, found objects and elaborate meals. In person, she is sweet and smiley, funny and friendly. Her partner, Phil, was the handsome photographer who made her into his muse. Online, they appeared a perfect hipster power couple.
When I discovered that Raymi and Phil had recently ended their engagement, I felt like I had learned of the breakup of two close friends. And given the scads of supportive e-mails she received and posted on her site, I wasn’t alone.
Phil and Raymi were fun-loving and photogenic online, but real life was another matter:
“we acted beautifully together for everyone else but us. while alone it was stretches of silences for hours in our own little online worlds until it became dark then we’d get ready and go out to whateverthef--- was going on that nite.”
The Ballad of Raymi and Phil can be taken as a cautionary tale. In our full-disclosure world, we should be mindful that sharing intimate details of our lives means that we will have an audience when it all falls apart.
Go ahead and flaunt your relationship online. Just make sure it’s as great in real life as it looks on paper (or in pixels). Because it’s better for you to be genuinely happy than for us to believe you are.