Could we talk about Facebook status updates for a moment? Personally, I've never had any major issue with status updates, nor the News Feed that shows you what everyone you've ever met in your life is doing (whether you want to know or not) on an up-to-the-second basis. If anything, I'm often entertained by the litany of relationship-based updates that are so mundane that they border on the absurd. A lot of them actually push me further away from the idea of wanting marriage and children. These updates range from actual full-out conversations between spouses to updates on the basic biological functions of their children. I don't really care that you have the greatest wife in the world, that you can't believe your infant provided you with yet another sleepless night or that your three-year-old son is getting better at defecating in the designated locations within your home as opposed to in his pants. But I digress...
Very recently, I've learned that these status updates and News Feed postings have far more dire effects on other single people. My good friend and I go to the coffee shop every day to do work. At least once a day I look up from my laptop immediately after hearing one of her sarcastically animated (and very funny) narrations of Facebook posts: "Baby #2 is on the way!" or "Guess who got ROSES today?!" Another friend of mine does exactly the same thing. When sitting at his computer he has more than once yelled out "We've lost another one!" He is, of course, referring to yet another old friend being lost to the institution of marriage. So, you see, it turns out that status updates prove to be tortuous to some. They serve as a constant reminder to most single people of something they don't have that they want, and may be desperately seeking.
And after talking about it more with my friend, I began to recognize the overwhelming number of ways Facebook can cause relationship-related frustration for a person. How about that picture of your ex-girlfriend with her new boyfriend, not even two months after you break up? Or the status change from 'in a relationship' to 'engaged' when you were hoping that maybe he'd break up with her and be with you? And of course, let's not forget about my all-time favorite: the destruction of two individual Facebook pages, only to be replaced with one singular page with both people appearing in the profile. So why do people feel the need to advertise their happiness to others? Why is there this constant need to sell the concept of "We're Happy!" with the urgency of a company liquidating unwanted inventory? Is it because they're trying to make themselves feel better about their own lives? Are they trying to convince other people that they are happy? I am no expert, but I think that it all comes down to two very basic human feelings: insecurity and jealousy. I'm not sure if any other species on earth has the capacity to feel these emotions, but the human animal has it in spades.
Is it possible that some of the people who brag about their relationships incessantly on Facebook are insecure and harbor the fear that others aren't aware of how happy they are (even though that may not be the case)? The single people are merely jealous of what they perceive that they don't have. Forbes.com recently featured a great quote of the day by Ernest Hemingway: "Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is." The inability to complete this task is something that has plagued human beings for millennia. Up until recently, however (thanks to Facebook), most of us didn't have to fail at it so many times per day.