Facebook Official? What the Heck!


by Kathy Palokoff, goFirestarter

So here's three things that happened:

  1. I've been hanging out a lot with a very sweet and wonderful guy. We are in a new and lovely relationship.

  2. I've feeling sad as the second anniversary of my husband's death approaches. Being a widow is quite heavy.

  3. I've been escaping on Facebook too much. I go through these distraction spurts, particularly when I have an intense writing deadline. The manuscript to my book -- Firestarters -- is due to the publishers June 1. Gulp.

The convergence of these three things -- happy new relationship, widowhood exhaustion, Facebook addiction -- led me to change my status from "Widow" to "In Relationship" on Facebook. It seemed fun and accurate.

Holy crap. I did not know my status change would be posted to all my Facebook friends. I just thought I was changing a profile field. 

Within minutes, I got my first and surprised comment -- "Facebook official?" I had no clue what she was talking about So, of course, I googled it:

These days, becoming “ Facebook official ”—declaring the status of your relationship publicly on your social media profile—is an established phase in the relationship life cycle. It occurs sometime after the first date and but before moving in together or getting engaged.

Double holy crap! Established phase in the relationship life cycle!?!!! Before moving in together or getting engaged!?!!! 

Oh, did I forget to mention that I never told the guy involved that I had gone public? He is truly one of the best-natured people I have met and was perfectly okay with the "announcement." In loving support, he went "Facebook official" on his page. Sweet.

I have been flooded with congratulations and well-wishes from people who are very happy for me. People have even shared my new status.

But my close friends are confused. Hadn't I just told them that I was going to go really slow? Didn't I just write a blog on the difficulties with dating fickle men? How did I go from there to Facebook official?

My best guy friend texted: "You're already declaring 'in a relationship' and your BGF hasn't even met the guy?" My best girlfriend has not commented. Her silence says it all.

Let me be very very clear. I don't have any regrets that I am in a relationship. As I said -- very sweet man. It's being IN A RELATIONSHIP that has me slightly freaked. I'm still in a lower case state and want all pressure off given my marriage and relationship track record. 

And the other part is that I'm feeling pretty stupid, and I don't like feeling stupid. How on earth had I missed this apparently key shift in culture where Facebook defines my official status? Since when is "In Relationship" an official status? I consider myself social media savvy and pretty up-to-date culturally. But I really did miss the boat on this one. 

And it's not really fixable. If I change my status, it looks like I just ended the relationship. I haven't and don't intend to. We're talking really good guy. The only thing that seems suitable is to switch to the "It's complicated" status but that is not about the relationship at all. The relationship is the least complicated one I have had in many years. "It's complicated" best describes my Facebook faux pas. Maybe Facebook should add a "It's stupid" choice under status!

So what have I learned from this little adventure that has made me a better marketer?

  1. It is so easy to become obsolete in the whirling changes in the world. As a marketing strategist, I have to be extra vigilant about keeping up and trying to know what I don't know.

  2. Never never underestimate the power of social media. It has changed everything. I knew that, but didn't really KNOW it.

  3. A little humiliation is good for the soul. It makes you think better. And act less randomly.

Well, time to post this on LinkedIn and Facebook. Let the guffaws begin.

Kathy Palokoff