In a world of social media and the sharing of life events, a curious thing has happened. We have become so used to using social media to track the events in other people’s lives that we’ve bestowed legitimacy on status updates and timeline events that makes them official. In short, it didn’t happen unless it’s online.
This raises a curious question around the politics of proclaiming what’s going on with your life. If you start dating someone and don’t change your status to reflect this development, is your relationship official? If you take a new job and don’t update LinkedIn, is that a message that you might not be sticking around? The interpretations of online behaviour are becoming part of our social landscape, in much the same way that adherence to etiquette has done in ages past.
It’s interesting to observe. A friend of mine is dating someone who, for a bunch of social and political reasons, doesn’t want to include the new relationship in their social landscape. This includes, but isn’t limited to, not being connected on Facebook, not acknowledging attendance at events together, and having to invent fictional spouses to avoid drama. While this is amusing to those outside, it’s interesting to see how the lack of ‘public knowledge’ is starting to affect their relationship. I’ve seen it happen with friendships and the post-breakup dividing of friendship groups too.
The public proclamation of a major shift in life via social media has become a milestone which, if ignored or voided, has profound implications for the ‘truth’ of that fact.
If we choose to live publicly through social media, does the desire to keep some things private,or to withhold information, affect the perceptions of our audience?