PART 2

Well, I intended my last post to be provocative, and indeed, "World's Most Revolting Facebook Status Updates" elicited a whole range of reactions. I greatly enjoyed them, even the critical ones. I'll mention some of the comments but they are all worth reading. Keep them coming.

You can find examples of revolting updates in my last post and in the list that is continuously updated at the STFU, Marrieds site. A great addition was offered by Sheila, who mentioned her cousin's fiancé who "counted down her wedding in months, days, hours, AND minutes for over a year."

"Psychprof" also added a fun one: "Lisa is all cuddled up with her honey. It's times like this she feels bad for all those who don't have someone. Be patient. It WILL happen!" Read the follow-up exchange that is also included in Psychprof's comment - that's fun, too.

I don't see these as the occasional shout-outs meant to express affection or gratitude - those don't bother me, regardless of whether they are directed to a romantic partner or anyone else. But a year-long countdown to a wedding? That's a whole other story.

Read some of the examples again and think about how you would characterize them. I started with "revolting." Some readers substituted or added words like silly or annoying. Here are a few more:

• Childish
• Insecure
• Self-centered
• Self-absorbed
• Immature

The reason I find these kinds of updates interesting, and why I described myself as gleeful while mocking them, is that these are just the sorts of mischaracterizations that are hurled at single people. In everyday life, and in a series of published studies, my colleagues and I have found that single people are far more likely than married or coupled people to be described as immature, insecure, and self-involved. And yet, look at these postings by coupled people.

I'm not saying that all coupled people are insecure and self-absorbed and that no single people are. My point is that there is something noteworthy - and not in a good way - about people who post in the ways we've been discussing. They are not the couples who are secure in themselves or in their relationships. Instead, they are people who seem to protest too much about just how great their "schmoopy" is. I suspect that there is also a self-awareness deficit: The impression they think they are conveying is not how other people really are viewing them.

There's something else noteworthy about these postings - they are competitive. Take, for instance, the woman who proclaimed that she "feels bad for stealing the most AMAZING man off the market." He's the most amazing man, and she took him away from everyone else (implying, of course, that we were all lusting after him). Or look back again at the exchange between Ashley and Kellee. Ashley says she has "the most amazing awesome husband in the whole world," but Kellee is not going to let that stand. Oh, no, she adds her own smug come-back, "Sorry to burst your bubble but I have that one wrapped up."

"Wiebes," in the comment section, brought up the very apt analogy of couples who make out in public places such as restaurants. When you see couples like that, do you think, "wow, what a great relationship they have - I wish I were them" (which, I suspect, is what they want you to think)? Or do you instead shudder at how they are embarrassing themselves, and start taking bets on when the relationship will dissolve? My own guess is that couples who really are secure in their relationship do not feel the need to act out their affection in public. And I do mean "act."

"Singletude" offered a number of important insights. Here are some excerpts:

Some people want to make their significant others feel good with public compliments... However, I do think there's a boastful element to a lot of these updates because the mainstream culture prizes relationships and encourages us to view those who have them as higher status than singles. Relationships are viewed not as mere lifestyle choices but as achievements, so, like the expensive vacations and career successes others here have mentioned, romantic pairings entitle the partners to bragging rights... It's very uncomfortable to watch a friend or family member diminish him- or herself by reducing a life that you know to be rich and full to nothing more than a prop for someone else. Perhaps there's a little bit of resentment, too--not because the person in question has a relationship but because when he/she makes it clear that one person is his/her "everything," everyone else in his/her life is, by extension, downgraded to "nothing."

When people post these over-the-top, incessant, sappy, and embarrassing updates, I think they are revealing themselves as people quick to buy what popular culture is selling. They are grasping at the matrimania, without stepping back first to get away from the hype. Those who do step away from the fray may still decide that coupling or marriage is what they want - but I bet they won't brag about it relentlessly on Facebook.

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