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
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.