Facebook status updates function as windows into our lives that allow us to share with the world. If you’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, chances are you are at least a little bit curious about why your friends share what they do. Why do some tend to share almost exclusively about their favorite sports team, pet, or celebrity while others seem to share every passing thought? Out of all the infinite ways we can update our Facebook statuses, why do we post what we post, and what exactly are we communicating by our posts?
Entries in facebook (35)
Most young adults use some form of social network, and among those platforms, Facebook is one of the most popular with nearly 1.4 billion monthly users and approximately 890 million users who login each day.1 And while many aspects of people’s lives play out on Facebook, their relationships are a particularly central part of their profiles.2 And although Facebook can be used to display new or happy3 relationships, people have to manage the end of their relationships on Facebook as well.
Did mama ever tell you to mind your own business or Stay in your own lane? For decades, musicians have been reminding us of the importance of a lesson that often falls on deaf ears. As a matter of fact, in 1949, Hank Williams began swooning about the topic when he sang the lyrics
“If the wife and I are fussin', brother that's our right
'Cause me and that sweet woman's got a license to fight
Why don't you mind your own business
(Mind your own business)
‘Cause if you mind your business, then you won’t be mindin’ mine.”
As powerful as those lyrics may be, it seems that more should be done to encourage people to Stay in Your Own Lane!1 Minding your own business or Staying in your own lane refer to the need for people to disengage from the troublesome act of gossiping or meddling in the affairs of others. As easy as this seems in theory, the act of minding your own business is anything but. As a matter of fact, popular media encourages the contrary. Over the past decade, reality television and social media have become the primary focus of our daily rituals – and both of these present-day fixtures encourage us to tend to the business of others. This is evidenced by participation in the dreaded eternal scroll. The eternal scroll refers to the time spent scrolling through social media sites, reviewing others’ posts. Think about it. As of late 2012, Facebook had accounted for almost one billion active users who collectively spend approximately 20,000 years online each day. This inordinate amount of time encourages users to express their likes, dislikes, interests, and concerns2 all relative to posts and responses of others.
The holidays are a time of great happiness, joy and cheer…or so we are told. As a matter of fact, if you look to the media, (i.e., print, film or radio) you will be inundated with a spectacular accompaniment of both visual and auditory stimulation designed to remind you that the holidays are filled with happiness. If this is not enough for you, you need not look any further than social media. Facebook further offers you the opportunity to witness a glorious display of familial fanfare, marital bliss, friendship follies with mistletoe and kisses at every click of a page. With the advent of social media, we often place significant attention on the public portrayal of happiness. This is especially true as we seek to create hallmark moments of perfection during the holiday that we can post and share with our friends. Sounds absolutely spectacular doesn’t it? Yet, how much of this is reality?
Think about the last time you were on Facebook. You probably noticed “that couple” – the person who always posts pictures of himself with his girlfriend, or the one who claims that she has “the best boyfriend ever” in her status updates. And then there are the people who you know are in relationships, but there’s no trace of it on Facebook. No “in a relationship” status, no pictures together, maybe no mention of the relationship at all.
My colleagues and I were curious about what drives these decisions – what leads some people in relationships to post profile pictures with their partners and others to not share relationship-relevant information? We examined a concept that we called relationship visibility, which occurs when people make their relationships a central part of the images of themselves that they convey to others.
With the pervasiveness of social media and mobile devices comes the potential to communicate with hundreds or thousands of people with just a few taps or clicks. Of course, we are connected to lots of different types of people, including family, friends, coworkers, and random people you have a faint recollection of from high school who friended you on Facebook. We also have very different reasons for communicating with particular people in our social circles. New research1 suggests that one motivation for communicating on Facebook (and other social media sites) is to keep some of our connections on the “back burner” as potential future romantic partners.
If you’re not currently in a romantic relationship, it makes sense that you may think of some people in your social network as romantic possibilities. However, do people who are currently in exclusive romantic relationships also keep potential mates on the back burner?
It isn’t every day that you get to invent a cool new word. But that is exactly what we at Science Of Relationships did by coining the term “relfie” in an article about how people present their relationships on Facebook.
As something new and cool related to the Internet, Jezebel.com wrote about our new invention. Jezebel doesn't hate it (“Relfie isn't hate-worthy”), but do think it is redundant with a selfie.
As the originators of the term, we politely disagree.
You’re probably wondering what a “relfie” is, so let’s start there. A relfie (you heard it here first!) is a “relationship selfie,” or when you take a selfie that includes a relationship partner or someone else you are close to (like a parent and child). Relfies are those pictures that people take when they turn their cameras on themselves to show off their relationships that are then posted on social networking sites like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter.
On Facebook, there are lots of ways to let your social network know that you are in a relationship, including posting relfies, changing your relationship status to say that you “are in a relationship with…”, and mentioning your partner in status updates. Facebook lets people control what others see about their relationships, thus allowing “friends” the ability to gather information and form impressions about others’ relationships.
People use Facebook for a lot of things, but keeping in touch with (so-called) “friends” has to be near the top of the list. There are lots of ways to use Facebook, but it’s possible that some ways of maintaining friendships are better than others. For example, you can simply keep tabs on your friend’s activities by stalking his or her Facebook wall. Though a bit passive, monitoring your friend has the benefit of keeping you informed and allows you to have things to talk about the next time you are both together.1 Another, less passive, option is to engage in maintenance behaviors,2 like posting something on a friend’s wall that offers positive encouragement and support, being open and showing empathy, or generally letting your friend know you’re thinking about him or her. On the surface these all seem like good options, but let’s see what the research says…
Facebook has changed the way people share information about their relationships and the way they communicate with their romantic partners. As I discussed here, Facebook provides opportunities for people to express their relationship satisfaction and commitment, but, as we learned here, Facebook is also a forum where people can access information about their romantic partners that may trigger jealousy.1 Ambiguous posts on a partner’s wall (“Great to see you last night!”) or the addition of a new, attractive person to a partner’s Facebook friend list may incite feelings of jealousy and insecurity. In our recent research, we wanted to address the following questions: How do people respond to jealousy-provoking information on Facebook? And who is more likely to seek out additional information in response to feelings of jealousy?
I was recently talking to a (male) friend from college, reminiscing about how all the guys in the dorms wanted to learn how to play guitar because we thought that it would increase our odds of landing a lady. Is it really true that women find guitar players attractive? Two recent studies have attempted to answer this question.
The first study, conducted in France, enlisted a young male research assistant who was highly attractive.1 He was not aware of the study’s hypotheses. His task was to systematically approach 300 similarly-aged women who were walking alone across a particular walkway and passing him (that is, he was told not to select only women he was attracted to). When a woman walked by, he asked for her phone number, saying that he would like to call her later so that they could go out and get a drink together.
Several years ago I received a Facebook message from a stranger. After exchanging a few innocuous messages with him, he invited me to lunch and—partly because I was recently single, partly because I had never gone on a formal date with someone I met online, and partly because I enjoy the excitement of a potential kidnapping—I agreed. Over the course of the meal he peppered me with a series of questions that I thought were somewhat atypical for a first date (“How many children do you want?” “How soon can I meet your family?”). Eventually, I set my fork down and said, “Not to be rude or anything, but it feels like you’re auditioning me to be your wife.” He shrugged his shoulders and replied, “Kind of, yeah.”
Despite my adventurous spirit, I had enough sense to not marry the guy. But a growing number of individuals are meeting their future spouses online. In fact, results of a recent nationally representative study suggest that over one-third of individuals who married between 2005 and 2012 originally met their partners on the Internet.1 What is particularly compelling about this study, however, is that it tackled a previously overlooked question that many dating websites (e.g., eHarmony) claim to know the answer to: Do individuals who meet their partners online or offline have more successful marriages?
Part 1 of this article described a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships investigating how Facebook has become an important part of the development of romantic relationships. In particular, although young adults don’t view Facebook as a dating site per se, it is used as a way to get to know potential partners better and gauge romantic interest. But beyond these initial interactions, Facebook is important as relationships progress.
Whether you like it or not, Facebook has become a central part of young people’s lives: about 75% of adolescents and young adults (aged 12-24) in the United States are active users of Facebook.1 As an important part of their day-to-day social interactions, Facebook reflects and plays a critical role in the development of young people’s romantic relationships. The importance of Facebook is illustrated by a recent paper published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,2 which employed in-depth interviews and focus groups with 55 college students to gather their thoughts about Facebook’s role in relationship development. College students are typically heavy users of Facebook; this sample of students reported spending, on average, nearly 2.5 hours actively using Facebook each day (which is similar to the frequency reported in other studies).3
Based on these interviews, the researchers identified three themes that are relevant at different points of relationship development:
You know those people on Facebook who tag their romantic partners in every…single…post? Or how about the people whose uploaded photos almost always contain their partners? If you’re anything like me, you may find it somewhat annoying, but these kinds of behaviors convey important information about couples’ relationships.
Previously, we have discussed how romantic partners’ senses of self gradually begin merging together and overlap with one another. In other words, we begin to take on some of our romantic partner’s aspects into our sense of who we are (e.g., you may find that you have picked up interests or hobbies that your partner introduced you to), and we begin to talk more in terms of “us” and “we” than “me” and “him/her”. In a recent study, researchers surveyed 276 individuals (mostly college students) about various aspects of their romantic relationships, including the degree of self-partner overlap and the content of their Facebook profiles.
Have you seen the headlines about the “Singles in America” survey? Match.com is oh-so-proud of it. The company boasts of the intellectual firepower behind their study. The survey is touted as “comprehensive” and the Match.com CEO brags that, “Since its inception, Singles in America has proven to be an unprecedented source of insight into the ideologies and lifestyle choices of today’s singles.”
Of course, the fact that the survey comes from Match.com should set off our scientific alarm bells. But Match.com points to their scholars in charge, and notes that the results are based on a representative sample of 5,000 American singles and 1,000 married people. Plus, sadly enough, many media outlets take the findings reported in the press release and run with them, as though they were ferrying precious cargo. So I think it is important to take a close look from a scientific perspective, and offer a less credulous perspective than you might find elsewhere.
The information people choose to share on Facebook can provide insight into their personalities and social lives. We can make fairly accurate judgments about individuals’ personalities from their Facebook profiles alone.1 In one study where people rated a stranger’s Facebook profile, judgments of certain personality traits, such as extroversion (e.g., sociability, outgoing nature) and openness to experience (e.g., curiosity, preference for variety) were consistent with the stranger’s ratings of himself or herself as well as how the stranger’s close friends rated him or her.1 So it seems that Facebook can help us learn about someone. But what do people’s Facebook profiles tell us about their romantic relationships?
Let’s face it, Facebook has changed the way we experience romantic relationships. The widespread popularity of Facebook has increased the amount of information people can access about their romantic partners - past, present, and future. In addition, Facebook has provided new ways for romantic partners to communicate. In previous posts, I talked about research findings linking Facebook use to higher levels of romantic jealousy and greater relationship satisfaction when going “Facebook official”. But, what are the consequences of staying Facebook “friends” with a partner after breaking up with said partner?