In the prehistoric era of Facebook (circa 2010), many of us learned that we were better off keeping our relationship statuses private. We avoided lots of inadvertently-public break ups that marked the dark ages of early high school, and we also stopped getting ourselves into misleading “civil unions” with our BFFs. One negative aspect of this movement towards internet privacy: obviously, you can no longer tell if your prospects are single or taken. Sure, you could hardcore stalk their pictures and speculate whether the person they were cuddling with on Spring Weekend is in fact their lover, but you can’t be positive. Maybe, for just a second, you have wished that everyone’s relationship status was public again, like the “good old days” or like a traffic light party in the basement of Caswell. Hopefully, you then came to your senses and realized that someone else’s love life is none of your f***ing business.
Facebook, getting its main form of sustenance from things that should be private, has launched a new button next to any hidden personal information called “ask.” The ask button sends a notification to the person you are
stalking curious about, notifying them that you have requested to see the answer to this unknown detail. You can send a message along with the request, like: “Hey, I know we haven’t spoken since high school, but I wanted to know where you live.” Because that is not creepy at all.
When this person of interest receives this notification, they can choose to update this information, either publicly, or by default – only to you. The default option creates a really weird life event in their timeline that only you can see/comment on. The subject of inquiry also has the option to not update their info, and just send a message back, like: “Go to hell you nosy biotch.” Below is a screenshot of the private life event that came to be when I totally platonically asked my fellow staff writer about her relationship status:
The issue with the ask button is that its purpose would always be served more comfortably by a simple private message. If you’re really curious about whether or not the cutie at your summer internship is single, grow a pair and message them. Or, more likely, discreetly ask a coworker or mutual friend until you have an NSA-esque file of information on them. What you probably should not do is send them a robotic request to disclose their deepest, darkest secrets. There is nothing sly about this button, as there are only three possible interpretations for sending an ask request: 1) You’re doing it ironically to one of your close friends, 2) You’re shamelessly hitting on someone, or 3) You are that person’s mother on a fake account.
That being said, we have no control over whether you utilize this feature or not. Who knows? Perhaps this button will launch us into an era marked by transparency and boldness when it comes to interpersonal Facebook relationships. However, one thing to remember: even if you utilize the default option, and only your nearest and dearest know how complicated your domestic partnership/bromance is, Facebook gets to know too. And Facebook knowing details about your relationship status leads to more targeted advertising on your sidebar. You may have thought it was cute to “marry” your roommate, but wait until your newsfeed is filled with offers to join egg donor databases and couples counseling.
With great stalking power, comes great responsibility… and a great deal of awkwardness. Use it wisely.
Here are some final reactions on the ask button from another, slightly more intoxicated staff writer, who shall remain anonymous:
*Disclaimer: You can also get egg donor advertisements from lingering too long on the DIY parenting section of Buzzfeed… Not that I would know.