Over the past decade, we’ve seen dozens of friends get married, break up, come out of the closet, or disavow love altogether. And unless you’ve been happily attached to the same person for the past 10 years, you’ve probably seen a parade of partners and love interests march their way in and out of heart. Some of us are living a fairytales. Others remain forever alone. But if there’s one thing all the relationships that have transpired over the past year have in common, it’s that they’ve somehow been affected by Facebook.
“But wait!” you protest. “It cannot be. My boyfriend and I don’t even have Facebook.”
All right then, answer us this: Are you over 80 years old? Are you Amish? Do either of you live in a submarine, in an underground cave, or in North Korea? Then like it or not, your love life’s been influenced – if only obliquely – by Mark Zuckerberg’s nefarious creation, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this week.
Don’t believe us? Here’s how our love lives would be completely different (for better or for worse) if Facebook weren’t invented.
1. Introverts would have to flirt with each other like extroverts
And by that we mean approach each other in person and say things like, “Hi, I’m Denise. You have great hair.” Or whatever it is that strangers do when they flirt with each other in real life. I wouldn’t know, because Facebook’s “Poke” button makes it a thousand times easier to start a cute little rapport without exchanging a word in real life.
2. We’d have a lot less practice dealing with sudden, unwanted change
Facebook has subjected us to dozens of redesigns over the years. Remember when they opened membership to everybody? When they got rid of tabs? Or when they started unrolling Timeline? You’re angry. You’re confused. You might even resolve to quit. But in the end, you stay, only to forget after a couple of months that Facebook was any other way. And once you’ve overcome the hurdle of going from profile to Timeline, you can overcome the hurdle of going from friends to lovers, or from “it’s complicated” to “in a relationship.”
3. “We’ve broken up” would actually mean something
For as long as Facebook’s been around, there’s been a debate over whether or not you should defriend your ex and detag each other’s photos after a breakup. Those in the digital detox camp argue that you’ll never truly move on as long as you’re connected online, while those in the “I’m a mature adult” camp insist that defriending is petty and that you need to make peace with those memories instead of wiping them out of your life.
As for us? We’re in the “this never would have happened in 2003” camp because back then, a breakup was as simple as slamming the door and saying goodbye.
5. Blind dates would be spoiler-free
And to thank we say, thank you, Mark Zuckerberg. Sure, Facebook eliminates some of the mystery, but you know what else it eliminates? Unnecessary awkwardness. Sure, you could decide to go old school and walk into the restaurant without doing any prior research, but how often does that lead to an ideal outcome? More often than not, you’ll curse yourself for wasting a perfectly good Friday night out with someone who is completely wrong for you. We can guarantee you’ll do a little pre-agreement stalking the next time your friend offers to set you up with her husband’s boss’s super-eligible brother.
6. We wouldn’t need to broadcast our relationship status to make it legitimate
“It’s not official until it’s Facebook Official,” said every friend to whom we shared the news of our attachment. Back in the day, you could walk into a party holding hands and everyone would assume that you were together. But now, people don’t really perceive your relationship as serious unless it’s on Facebook. And many young couples have had their first fight because one party refused to acknowledge the relationship by changing his status.
Sure, it seems like a petty matter, but Facebook relationship statuses have made things a lot easier for singles by helping us suss out who’s taken and who’s available. Back in the day, we’d actually have to ask (awkward) or find out after we’ve already started liking the person (womp womp). But thanks to Facebook stalking, there’s no reason to inadvertently fall for someone who’s already spoken for. Likewise, it’s an easy way to take yourself off the market once you’ve gotten attached. No need to clarify your status to every friend, relative, or interested party that you encounter. Facebook’s already done it for you.
7. Singleness would feel a lot less pathetic
Sure, we’d still feel irritated, lonely, or sad about being alone sometimes, but at least we wouldn’t be bombarded with reminders every time we went online. Back in the day, unmarried people received pressure from their family and friends to settle down. Now, we have to deal with that AND with the feeling that everyone’s getting attached except for us. Thanks to that darn heart constantly appearing on our Newsfeeds, we’ve never felt more alone than we do now. But on the upside…
8. You’d have one less way to make singleness look awesome
Facebook isn’t a mirror. If anything, it acts more like a camera filter, presenting the truth of your life in gauzy, even fantastical tones. And the best part is, that filter is completely up to you. Do you want your life to look wistful and romantic? Then post vague song lyrics hinting at a perpetually blue existence. Want to look cultured and smart? Then spam your Newsfeed with articles from Guardian and The New Yorker.
Singleness doesn’t have to consist of statuses about being a cat lady and spending Friday nights watching movies alone. You can choose to document it by posting pictures of overseas business trips, of nights out with your friends, and of all the things you accomplished independently. Thanks to Facebook, we have an easy means of rewriting the narrative of singleness. And who knows? Maybe you’ll look at your timeline ten years from now and feel glad that you didn’t marry too early.