I apologize for talking about news articles two days in a row, but again today, I feel compelled to comment on a story about the way we live now, this one in today's New York Times. The piece begins by talking about a young couple from Texas who fight their romantic battles publicly, via Facebook status updates. For instance, the groom-to-be asked a passive-aggressive rhetorical question on his Facebook page about why his fiancée's birthday celebration spanned the course of a week, while his only lasted a single day. She responded by changing her status update to: "GET OVER IT!!! UGH!!!!!!"
The future groom told The Times he saw Facebook as an opportunity to show his friends what his lady puts him through. He said it provides "a way to get [his] side of the story out there to everybody. That way, they don't just hear her side." His fiancé agreed with him. "A lot of people aren't with us if we have a fight at home," she said. But, she continued, when they volley petulant comments back and forth online, all their friends can comment on it.
Apparently, this couple is not especially unique; as The Times point out, their kind of behavior is so common there are even several Facebook groups with names like "I Dislike People/Couples Who Argue Publicly on Facebook."
The Times cites marriage counselors who say the likely effect of Facebook sparring is that friends will become convinced that a bickering couple shouldn't be together.
But I'm not as concerned with the end result of Facebook fighting as much as with the motivation behind it.
I wonder: Why is it so important to have friends' feedback on petty romantic disagreements as they play out? Do the opinions of pals really matter so much, in such circumstances? Isn't it a bit childish to use Facebook to settle scores with your lover? Doesn't it corrode the trust and intimacy the relationship was built on? Shouldn't most disagreements be more about trying to reach interpersonal understanding rather than a game that is being scored?
Sure, there are times when romantic spats become so big or strange or painful that we need to have a (private) conversation with a friend or family member to sort things through ... but for the most part, shouldn't we keep them private--out of respect for our partners and ourselves?
Aren't romantic relationships based, in part, on the idea of intimacy--that there are certain things that should be kept within the relationship? So why would anyone want to fight his or her private relationship battles in such an ostentatious way?
(Are they hoping that if things get vicious enough, they'll be chosen as the stars of the next reality TV show?)
(Perhaps this is a bit bizarre coming from me--a dating blogger, a person who shares a fair bit of personal information with the general public! But I've learned a lesson or two about how odd it can be to talk so publicly about one's life; I've learned to be a lot more upfront with people from the get-go about the fact that I do blog; and I've learned to keep a good deal more to myself. I also tell people in advance if I'm going to write anything that concerns or reflects on them, so they can tell me ahead of time if they feel uncomfortable with it. And I haven't been in a serious relationship since this blog started; were I in one, I would never say a thing about my partner without his permission.)
I think John Bowe, author of Us: Americans Talk About Love, would agree with me. When we talked about his book, he said, "A lot of facets of modern life--like hyperstimulation from electronic devices--undermine intimacy."
What I want to know is: What do you smart people think? I'm starting to get the feeling--based on the comments of the past few weeks, on posts like yesterday's--that YOU guys should be helping me write, you're just so wise.