A Definitive Etiquette Guide for Couples on Social Media
Guys, we don't need special apps for couples. Couples and singletons can coexist on the same social networks as long as we all live by a few ground rules.
Guys, we don't need special apps for couples. Couples and singletons can coexist on the same social networks as long as we all live by a few ground rules. No, these special couples-only apps are not hypothetical. They are real. Being in a relationship on the Internet has gotten so difficult (and annoying for the rest of us) that people have spent time trying to create a whole closed off section of the Internet just for couples. Apps like Pair, as described via The New York Times's Jenna Wortham, create a network of just two people: You and your significant other. While Wortham finds the app useful -- "Something was thrilling about the secret little notes that Shaun, my temporary beau, and I sent to each other throughout the day" -- do we really need to fence couples off into their own corner? We say no.
There is such a thing as too much information.
If you have something at all important to say, don't say it online. The way social networks work, the very point of them, is that lots of other people can see what's happening. It's a pretty public Internet out there. We know you know that. So stop putting stuff on there that only one other person will appreciate. Not only do none of us care about the inner workings of your relationship, did you ever think it might be rude, shoving all that digital love in our faces? Like, that Instagram photo of a plate of food with the following caption. "My boy made me dinner! <3 he's the best." Or, affectionate wall posts along the lines of "I love you so much honey <3." Stop that. It both makes us jealous and want to vomit. Also rule number something of Internets says that any emotions shared over the tubes have less meaning, as it is much easier to type something into the ether than say it to one's face. So from the sweet (tweet) nothings to the fights, keep the important stuff off the Internet.
Don't post anything about your significant other without their permission.
We learned about this potential problem from this New York Times article, which describes all the stupid things couples are doing on the Internet to ruin their relationships. Here, we get two scenarios that got one member of a pair riled. Rosanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, got in trouble for tweeting about her husband's supposed nap, explains Laura Holson. "John called me and he was really annoyed," Cash told Holson. "He said, 'Don’t tell people I’m taking a nap!'" Later in the article, Holson describes a woman who got annoyed with her partner for putting up a photo of her without her knowing. These situations get especially sticky because people in relationships often have more revealing or intimate information about their partners. An amusing or cute or entertaining moment between two people comes off as embarrassing when shared with the general Internet public. It's like the Internet version of public displays of affection -- some people just don't like it.
Get over jealousy issues.
When we asked a married couple, half of which happens to be the Wire's Elspeth Reeve, they each mentioned, independently, that jealousy issues are an inevitability. "Be prepared to be able to account for all new female friends on Facebook, because you will be asked about them, don't throw a hissy fit when they come up, and if you feel guilty about them, maybe you should?" Reeve's husband told us via IM. Reeve herself raised these potential problems: "How to deal with lingering ex girlfriends who post shit on your man's wall. How to discreetly say 'back off bitch.'" Facebook jealousy can be marriage-ending. Over one third of of divorce filings include the word Facebook, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Typed out status updates are often surprisingly easy to read as flirty, even if you don't mean it. And if you do mean it, stop flirting out in the open where everyone, including the person you're married to or dating can see. It's transparent and embarrassing.
Being cute is okay.
We're not saying it's mandatory to turn a romantic relationship platonic to live on the Web. Feel free to post links on each others walls about common interests. Or tweet things @ your lover. Just think about one how your significant other will feel about all of his or her friends seeing that thing; what it says about the relationship; and what it says about that person. Then take another step back and think about how we the passive social networker will feel about seeing your public display of affection. If it doesn't feel venue appropriate -- and we trust you can figure this out -- some Internet spaces, like that app Pair, allow for more intimate communication. Feel free to do whatever you like in private places, like Gchat or E-mail. Just remember: A Gchat is forever.