Love in the time of Facebook

14 Jun

manMap ponder love and FacebookA while ago, I caused a romantic catastrophe. One of my wing-girls decided she’d try online dating, via Facebook’s Zoosk. Her Facebook profile reflected her busy social life, vibrant personality and her beautiful face. I had no doubt she’d be overwhelmed with admirers.

A few days passed and Wing-girl only had a couple of nibbles, all from men way too old for her. When a transsexual contacted her, she raised the alarm. We couldn’t understand what was going on. And why were they all commenting on how amazing she looked for her age?

Then we joined the dots. According to Wing-girl’s profile, she was well into her 60s, 30+ years older than she really is. And this was my doing. Entirely. I’d been telling my friends not to put their real ages online in case thieves tiptoed over their profiles and pinched their identities. Wing-girl had faithfully followed my advice and hadn’t even though about it when she opened herself to the world of Facebook dating. Mortified, she closed her dating profile and decided to seek love in more traditional places, like the pub.

One night, at a local pub, she bumped into a guy she’d met years before. They enjoyed chatting, had a few laughs and Wing-girl told the guy to look her up on Facebook, thinking he probably won’t. But a few days later, there was his Friend Request. He’d searched through over 300 women with the same name to find her. To me this was a modern Cinderella story, only with Facebook instead of a glass slipper.

“You’re meeting up with him, right?” I asked.

“I invited him to Sunday drinks,” she said. I shook my head. I thought he deserved more than group drinks after his efforts searching. But maybe Wing-girl was right. Facebook has turned most of us into ‘friend-sluts’. We’ll friend almost anyone, even if it’s just to keep tabs on them. Was the act of clicking ‘Request Friend’ enough to indicate a guy’s interest? We’ve downgraded the requirements needed to share daily activities, photos and even our location with people we don’t really know. And yet the general buzz across the city indicates we’ve upgraded the standards needed for a date.

Is it possible that Facebook is making us narrow-minded when it comes to meeting men? I love that moment in The Social Network when Zuckerberg discovers Facebook’s missing ingredient: the relationship status feature. I’ve been saying for years that a badge system would really help society. If we all wore badges indicating our availability and sexual preference, there’d be far less confusion over what was on offer. To a degree, Facebook has solved this. But it’s also introduced a new level of complexity: online stalking.

When Wing-girl told me Mr Pub had found her on Facebook, we logged on straight away to examine his profile and photos. And that raised questions. Who was that girl he had his arm around? Did he spend every weekend drinking himself into oblivion, or was it just that he only ever took photos when he was drunk? What did his taste in music say about him as a person? And what did that strange comment on his wall actually mean? Access to all this information distracted us from the fact that he and Wing-girl had enjoyed seeing each other, had both remembered each other from years before and that he had taken the time to track her down.

Depending on which version you read, the Prince fell for Cinderella after just one night. When she fled so he wouldn’t uncover the reality of her situation, he searched for her, motivated only by what had passed between them. Had the brothers Grimm written Facebook into the story and sat the Prince at a computer to search rather than sending him out in a carriage, he may have recognised the cinder-smeared face and discovered that the object of his desire was a commoner. Would he have cared? Would his experience with her at the ball have carried more weight than what Facebook told him about her? What do you think?

In our online world we can pick and choose men to date the same way we can pick and choose cosmetics and clothing. Is this helping us connect with men, or is it turning romance into a fairy tale?

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7 Responses to “Love in the time of Facebook”

  1. Sanjay June 14, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    Relationship status on facebook is largely irrelevant anyone. Only a few girls I know who are single, actually show it, instead of just hiding their relationship status. Still, it’s a hint if a girl is interested and she’s commenting on all your posts!

    • Lucie Stevens June 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

      And do you use Facebook to find out more about them Sanjay??

      • Sanjay June 15, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

        I would be careful, much like you were. You don’t want to read into every photograph and try to draw conclusions from it. Similarly you don’t want to judge a person on the comment that they wrote when they were tired and not really thinking when they wrote it.

  2. The Single Girl June 15, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Great post!

    • Lucie Stevens June 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

      Thanks SG – hope it’s warming up over there for you!

  3. bedazzleddating June 19, 2011 at 6:16 am #

    Putting a relationship status on facebook is irrelevant to anyone who is in a loving relationship, anyone can put what they like, I have put complicated in the past just to get people talking, as they have nothing better to do.

  4. business daily June 22, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    ..Unless you are extremely cute amazingly charming or completely irresistible having a girlfriend is not something that you can do without exerting some effort or investing some time.

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