Tuesday 24 October 2017

Love under the blue banner: Relationship etiquette on Facebook

Hannah Popham

IN the latest of our entries in an Irish Independent student journalist competition, in association with Campus.ie, Hannah Poppham looks at the relationship etiquette on Facebook

There is a five-second moment in the Inbetweeners in which Simon, new to the relationship game, mentions his new girlfriend.

These five seconds of television have unfortunately been immortalised by my circle of friends, for all the wrong reasons. Milliseconds later, Jay responds with one absolutely infuriating noise to signal an update about his significant other.

This particular noise has since become an immensely overused catchphrase on Facebook among my friends: ‘beepity beep beep beep.’

It was a response which surfaced from my male friends every time I had any public online interaction with anyone I was in a relationship with or even vaguely dating, regardless of how banal our interaction was.

However, it always reminded me to be wary of how much of my personal life I did expose on Facebook.

There are extremely different stances on this: I have friends in relationships for years who refuse to even show their relationship status on their profile. I also have friends who go as far as to reveal their exs' infidelities to their entire friends list. There exists a very fine line between acknowledging your relationship through the medium of Facebook, and making a right fool of yourself.

I’ll give you a few very necessary nuggets of advice to heed when it comes to social media: If the status you’re about to post is written to vent about the untimely breakdown of a relationship; if you're so drunk you can’t see the keyboard or if it contains the phrase “love you to bits”, then step away slowly from your laptop.

The only reason anyone on the internet is ever interested in status updates like this, is ultimately to try to pinpoint the exact moment when you descended into madness.

We’ve all seen a relationship Facebook faux pas which sticks out in our memory. I can think of various cringe-worthy examples: a couple who changed their relationship status almost every week and a couple who update the Facebook world daily on their turbulent relationship and just how much they hate each other.

Even worse, I know of several people who found out that their significant other was cheating when they were tagged in photos kissing people who incidentally, they definitely shouldn’t have been.

This is such a cultural prevalence that a sociology graduate in the year above me managed to conduct their entire thesis on the impact of public breakups on Facebook.

Let’s just put it this way: if you wouldn't mind your best friend, parents and that girl you awkwardly say hi to every Tuesday morning when walking into college reading the status you’re about to put up, click 'post' by all means. But these are some of the people who are going to cringe, laugh and/or be mortified at your expense.

Hannah Popham is a Sociology student at TCD.

* If you’re a student who can write concise, topical stories and is deeply engaged in student life, join the Contributors’ Competition and your stories could be published on Ireland’s most popular news website, Independent.ie, this semester.

See www.campus.ie for more details.

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