THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Valentine’s Day may have come and gone but love continues to linger in the air and across Facebook and other social networking sites too. This Valentine’s day, many ‘in-love’ were seen painting the ‘wall’ red for the willing and unwilling witnesses on their friends list. Public display of affection may not be anything new but the new phenomenon called Facebook Display of Affection (FDA) surely seems to be the in-thing catching up with the generation-next internet users whose virtual worlds exceed far beyond the boundaries of the real world. The blurring boundaries between the personal and public lives have finally made way into the ‘News Feeds’ of audiences of all kinds. Facebook has come a long way from being a mere social-networking site to a habit that many find difficult to keep off and is now gradually reflecting a world where relationships are just so perfect.
More people are getting blatant about divulging their relationships statuses and the minutest details of the chemistry between them and their partners. Information on relationship status on a Facebook profile no more limits itself to the options of being hidden, ‘Single’ or ‘Married’ but has variety of choices like ‘In a relationship,’
‘Committed,’ ‘Engaged’ and ‘It’s Complicated’. With all these you also have a choice to tag your partner. Why has this declaration become so critical for an individual’s social-networking website profile? Author Manoj Kewalramani says, “I think it’s fair for people to share their pictures on Facebook, etc. However, what one can often sense is that there’s a certain exhibitionist tendency that accompanies sharing on social networks. There’s a need to establish a virtual existence of the ‘perfect life,’ ‘perfect love,’ etc. It all stems from a need for acknowledgment, i.e., if twenty people comment, it makes me feel that perhaps there is something special about it. Frankly, it’s juvenile.”
However, some others believe that whatever the reason be, a personal space, even on internet, gives people the right to express anything and everything they want. “One’s Facebook profile is one’s own personal space and everyone has the freedom to take a pick on what to share and with whom. Personal means different to different people. What may look extremely personal to me could be the joy someone else wants to share with the world and as long as they are doing it within their space, I have no complaints,” says Raphael, an avid follower of Facebook and a web content manager.
Love lives have never been as perfect as on Facebook, before, and never so impersonal too. Media professional Anika Mohla says, “It seems that more than to tell the world about their love, these couples want to tell themselves that they are in love. If you are so happy in love, you wouldn’t care to announce it to other people that you are happy in your relationship via Facebook. It comes across as if the person is putting a lot of effort into making sure that others think that he/she is really happy. I and my guy have been together for over two years and plan to marry this year, but we never bothered ourselves to even change the relationship status on Facebook, it still says single. In fact, we haven’t even got a picture of us together there either.”
The argument here certainly doesn’t imply that every ‘mushy’ post is a pronouncement. Sharing pictures of a thrilling vacation, a family get-together or some special moments with one’s partner is all part of social-chain game. “It’s perfectly alright, though I wouldn’t do it. Such things indicate happiness and spread a feel-good factor. So why not? Though it is possible that such posts do not surface from genuine happiness. However, I don’t buy the fake theory, like some character in a boring, art house movie. I admit that only very few people can call themselves happy. Everyone is unhappy about something or the other. But why can’t they post ‘happy’ stuff on Facebook? Would you rather look at gory pictures or read stuff that usettles you?” asks Priyan Nair, a journalist based out of Delhi. But it’s also true that one feels a natural irritation about blatant and relentless demonstration of affection. “We of course love our friends, but the problem is that sometimes when they are in love, they do things which look lame to most. At first, it generates pity and then a flea infestation of irritation. Of course sometimes it inspires jealousy too. It is like - Dude! At least you have someone to say this silly thing to,” says Satyam Pati, a management professional.
“The worst of it is when people place ‘cryptic,’ ‘passive aggressive’ messages. That’s just crying need for attention and the inability to have an honest conversation about what’s troubling them. It would be far more ideal, if people can actually talk to those that matter in such situations and be open and honest than resorting to such public messages which act as a temporary vent of angst and garner sympathy that amounts to nothing tangible,” adds Manoj Kewalramani.