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I Love You And I Don't Care Who on Facebook Knows It


Sep 11 2013
Guidelines for PDA in the digital age.

We all know a Facebook cynic. Maybe you've even been a Facebook cynic. If you're not in a relationship, you might hate reading the statuses on Valentine's Day or anniversaries; if you are childless you might be tired of seeing friends post about their babies; if you hate cats, you might even condemn the pet-lover who shares too many photos of Mr. Whiskers.

Defenders of Facebook, even in Christian spheres, emphasize the community-building power and togetherness of the platform. As we scroll through updates, we ought to have the capacity to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn, they say. But sometimes we're not being invited to share in the celebration or the mourning. Instead, as we review what's become a digital curation of people's lives, we get roped in as involuntary witnesses.

So, let's talk about the real problem here: "public displays of affection" through lovey-dovey messages on social media. Facebook PDA has a bad reputation for a reason, and it's not just because exhibitionist couples annoy us, both offline and on. Couples' Facebook updates can seem detached from the rest of the world, shared without inviting advice, perspective, or feedback from the close friends and elders subjected to each. (Who among us has something wise to say in response to a photo of a friend kissing her boyfriend on Facebook? If someone does, I'd like to know what.)

"Facebook official" isn't enough anymore; nor is tweeting from the altar. Now couples are "racing to share social media" by setting up joint Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other accounts as a sign of how in sync they are.

Maybe this will do away with some of this groan-inducing Facebook PDA, showed off through complimentary statuses, love notes, and kissy-face selfies on each other's walls. Typically, this type of shared content says nothing more loudly than "look upon us and be excluded." Here's a handy rule of thumb: If you wouldn't want anybody there in person – whether because you really do consider it private or you're afraid they'd protest – don't force them to be present on Facebook.

But some PDA can be sweet, endearing, and even insightful to the friends following our updates. Posting on Facebook can be an opportunity to introduce friends to part of our stories and the significant people in our lives. I noticed this around Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Sibling Day (?!) this year, when many of my friends posted about their family members on social media.

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