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Defining Facebook Relationships

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Facebook has redefined the integral facets of “being in a relationship”—no longer is it simply about going on a date or advancing to second base.

In today’s virtual realm, officiating a Facebook “relationship status” is imperative to some, but to others, not particularly.

Michelle Rosinski, a sophomore English major, said declaring a relationship status can be harmful. 

“Making a relationship ‘Facebook Official’ is a label,” Rosinski said. “It accentuates the status of how two people feel about each other.”

Samantha Krahling, a sophomore letters and sciences major, said in high school, she and her boyfriend of almost three years officiated their relationship via Facebook, making it “Facebook Official.”

Now in college, Krahling said her Facebook relationship status is no longer official even though she is still with her boyfriend.

“We just didn’t feel like it was important,” Krahling said. “We are super secure with our feelings toward each other so it doesn’t matter either way.”

In 2010, 60 percent of Facebook users had some form of a relationship status declared, according to an article by Joshua Gleason titled “Anthropology of Media.”

A small survey taken at the University of Maryland this year depicted interesting results concerning the importance of declaring Facebook relationship statuses.

Of the 80 participants, 17.50 percent said “yes,” 50 percent said “no” and 33.75 percent said “sometimes,” regarding updating Facebook relationship statuses.

“Relationships are personal—not between you and your 800 Facebook friends,”  freshman English and Psychology double major Madeline Pifer said. “I think too often people only post relationship statuses on Facebook to elicit a response out of others.”

Junior environmental science and technology major Kyle Speed said officiating a relationship status is “an imperative step in the relationship process.”

Pifer vehemently opposed posting a relationship status.

Speed cautioned to only officiate relationships of significance. “If we’re just talking or hooking up then I wouldn’t ever make it official,” Speed said.

So why is this declaring act important to some but not to others? Pifer said today’s society holds a lack of emphasis on privacy.

“People 50 years ago would probably never have dreamed of sharing personal information with so many other people,” she said.

“I suppose people think their Facebook should be an accurate representation of their entire social life.”

Rosinski said select individuals are accustomed to the act, feeling comfort in posting a label on their relationships.

“It seems like the natural thing to do,” Rosinski said. “It’s a way of validating a relationship both personally and in relation to others.”

Relationship statuses correlate with positing a profile picture featuring an individual and his or her partner.

Gaby Arancibia, a senior multiplatform journalism major, said she’s indifferent when it comes to couple profile pictures.

“I don’t think it’s vital, but it’s not bothersome,” Arancibia said. “It’s nice to see people happy sometimes.”

Pifer said couple profile pictures are not bothersome—however, couples should not let the photograph define their love.

“I think your relationship should be strong enough that it shouldn’t be influenced by a photo,” she said.

Rosinski said posting couple profile pictures solicit relationship vanity.

“A picture of you and your partner on Facebook is just a way that people prove to the world they are in a ‘successful’ relationship,” she said.

All of these opinions beg the question if officiating your relationship status via Facebook is juvenile and unnecessary or a significant step in taking your relationship to the next level.