Ten years ago, if a friend said they had a hot date, we’d take their word for it. But now it only takes seconds after asking their date’s name for the Facebook profile of the lucky bachelors or bachelorettes to load. Inevitably, someone will say, “Click through their pictures.” And so the stalking session begins. From exes to prospective partners, Facebook has single-handedly made secretly stalking someone socially acceptable.
According to istrategylabs.com, Facebook had over 4 million college student users in the country last year. Just as college students search Google for information on a research paper, they look to Facebook to learn about the people they have dated in the past and those who they hope to date in the future.
With so many people voluntarily publishing a constant stream of information about their lives, Facebook makes finding closure in a breakup harder than ever. Whether your ex knows if you check his or her page or not, your ex may use the profile to create the illusion that he or she has moved on by updating statuses and posting photos with new dates. While coping with a breakup, remaining Facebook friends with an ex can make it hard to follow the less-is-more approach for knowing what your ex has been doing post-breakup.
While the abundance of information that Facebook can provide about your ex can feel like a curse, it can be a gold mine while you peruse the profile of the person you hope to date. A quick glance at your crush’s profile can reveal similar tastes in movies and local food trailers. Before you even ask the person out, your first date has been planned.
Like the bygone ritual of donning the letterman jacket or pin of a partner’s fraternity, a status that declares “in a relationship” plays a significant role in modern-day dating. Interpersonal communications professor John Daly believes that the importance of a relationship status depends on the daters.
“It’s a form of public commitment,” Daly said. “Before Facebook, there wasn’t anything like this. And the closest thing to it was ‘being pinned,’ a ‘70s tradition, and then it was only for the girl.”
Just as Facebook makes a relationship public, it also publicizes a breakup that attaches the symbol of a broken heart to your name on the news feeds of your friends.
“Part of the reason changing your Facebook status can be a big deal for a couple is that if you two breakup, everyone on Facebook will know,” said journalism senior Olivia Watson. “That little pink broken heart can make a breakup a bigger deal than it really is.”
All of a profile’s published content is susceptible to investigative stalking, thus proving Facebook can be a research tool as well as a form of communication. Whether it’s finding out that your ex has moved on or that your crush is newly single, Facebook allows you to keep tabs on someone without the risk of them finding out through the gossip grapevine.
Printed on Friday, March 9, 2012 as: Lovers find insight through Facebook