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Looking for relationship drama on Facebook

Erin McGinn | Monday, April 23, 2007

My day always starts with the same routine. I check my email to find out about the latest necessary and important OIT all-hands meeting, I check CNN to see what’s going on outside of the Notre Dame bubble, and I check Facebook for the latest gossipy relationship updates.

Facebook relationships – and their pertaining choices – are the cause of all sorts of drama and controversy. While they may cause pain and frustration (and occasionally happiness) for those involved, for outsiders they can be quite entertaining. Watching casual friends travail the land between “It’s complicated” and “In a Relationship” several times in one day is far superior to any drama a soap opera could ever offer.

There’s a great deal of analysis and strategy that goes into making your initial selection with regards to what you are “looking for” in your own profile. Does only looking for “Friendship” come off as being too unapproachable to an interested party? Does “A Relationship” scare off potential casual daters? How far down on the skanky-scale does selecting “Random Play” knock you? And then there is the option of “Whatever I can get,” which is a whole other issue all together.

It’s hard enough to try to label your own desires – it gets more interesting when there is another person involved. Facebook doesn’t have an option for “casual dating,” which means that there comes a point where you have to select a relationship option if you no longer consider yourself the sole occupant of single-ville. The initial decision is whether or not to classify it as “open” or not. This can cause all sorts of drama since the definition of what qualifies as an “open relationship” can vary drastically from person to person and couple to couple.

And what can potentially cause even more trouble than the “open relationship” is setting your status to “it’s complicated.” This can mean anything from an on-again, off-again couple, to a regular hook-up from the Backer. In the worst-case scenario (or best, depending on your view), this setting is used in relationship warfare between a couple.

For example, it’s always easy to tell when “Joe” and “Katie” are fighting, because one of them will angrily change their status from a “relationship” to “it’s complicated.”

The question of courtesy can also factor into all of these decisions. Close friends can get upset when they find out about a break-up/new relationship from their news feed, as opposed to the actual person.

Nothing is quite as irritating as discovering that an ex is dating someone else, but that irritation is easily exacerbated by first hearing about it on your homepage. But at the same time, there are few greater feelings in the world than witnessing the broken heart image appearing next to his name.

Sometimes, Facebook relationship statuses are the best way to find out whether that drunken confession of love will still stand true in the sober light of day. “Megan” and “Mike” might have made out at the Feve, but is that going to translate into an actual status (“it’s complicated,” perhaps)?

It could just end up as a poke.

In the world of Facebook relationships, pokes are the most private gesture since (fortunately) they don’t show up on the feed. Much like the status, pokes can mean different things to different people.

Whole Facebook groups are devoted to determining how pokes should be used and who should actually get poked. Is it a friendly gesture? Is it indicative of a non-duLac approved desire of intimacy? Your idea of poking and the viewpoint of the person who you are poking (or who poked you) might not be the same, and that could lead to a potentially complicated situation.

So if you happen to be involved in a high-profile Facebook drama-fest, try not to fret over your complicated relationship – just think about how riveting your life is to those secretly watching it unfold on the Facebook feed.

And drama-fans and voyeurs alike, please remember to practice safe poking.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.