Love in the time of Facebook

Molly K. Harrigan, Contributing Writer

“He posted ‘Hey and a winky face’ on my page last night.” “Did you see Jessica’s relationship status, she just dumped her boyfriend and already has a new one!” “He poked you!? OMG that’s serious!” Constant gossip buzzing through Facebook posts has become the fad of our generation.

Facebook is altering college students’ perspectives on dating, relationships and communication, taking away the excitement of meeting new people. “I’m more likely to get a friend request from a guy than to have one approach me in person,” explained SRJC student Salena Moore.

In a student-created poll of 100 SRJC students, 55 percent said they would rather friend request than ask for a phone number. Some said it is because rejection comes easier through posts and messages, than in person.

“Facebook is less personal, if you get shot down online it’s like, ‘whatever, on to the next.’ You can play it off like it didn’t matter because the person can’t see how it truly made you feel,” said SRJC student Ryan Haven.

The idea of meeting that hottie at a coffee shop, or bumping into “Mr. Right” at the grocery store, is slowly dwindling and being replaced with a social network. Will college students soon rely on a colon and parenthesis for comfort instead of a real smile?

Facebook is paving a future to virtual dates being common. “You never know, maybe instead of in-person public displays of affection I will be able to send someone a virtual kiss or hug. Oh wait, there’s an app for that,” said Maria Lopes.

Facebook allows people to edit their entire lives to make them sound more appealing to the public. People can lie about age, profession, location and even have fake pictures. Yet, 85 percent of SRJC students qualify Facebook as a successful way of meeting people.

Facebook could also pose a threat to existing relationships, instilling jealousy, suspicion and secrets into the lives of many SRJC students; 45 percent of men and 30 percent of women admitted to hiding comments, pictures and messages from their significant others at least twice during their relationships.

Emily Lancaster, an SRJC sophomore, confirms that Facebook ruined her long-term relationship: “I was on my Facebook page and saw a photo of my former boyfriend kissing all over this girl at a party. I had no idea. It was embarrassing because everyone saw it before me.”

With the options of posting your relationship status, Facebook enables break-ups and scandals to become public knowledge.

Flirting becomes overanalyzed in the Facebook world with picture comments, pokes and chatting. When asked about “poking” on Facebook, 80 percent of students agreed it was a form of flirting. Brynn Keller said, “Duh, I think a poke is flirting.”

However Elliot Tran disagreed, “Poking is a sign of lack of creativity and shows an innate propensity to irritate me.”

Internet dating surrounds the lives of many SRJC students. Fifty-five percent of SRJC students say they have or had an active online dating account, and 80 percent said they have at least thought about making one.

Some students said meeting someone online takes away the “butterflies” of physically seeing someone and hearing them speak; two out of every 10 students said that they would rather meet a boyfriend or girlfriend on Facebook if that meant starting a relationship sooner than later.

Many SRJC students depend on social networking, and in some ways it is beneficial, whether keeping in touch with long-distance friends and romantic partners, or rekindling old relationships. But 70 percent of SRJC students agree that although more difficult at times, face-to-face communication is the most rewarding when trying to find someone special.

SRJC student Jeffrey Covens said, “Our generation already depends so much on technology to speak for us, we shouldn’t allow Facebook or any other social network to speak for our emotions and take over the journey to finding love, as cheesy as that sounds.”