November 11, 2009

It Shouldn't be THAT Complicated...

You can always spot them on Facebook. They’re the newly single. These are the people who think they have to keep the whole world updated on their current relationship status.

Truly, this is an area where there’s such a thing as TMI.

TIME did an article earlier this year on the pitfalls of relationship updates. According to the article, 60% of Facebook users fill in the relationship status. Honestly, we really don’t need to know that you’re In A Relationship the minute you’ve made it through a second date. That nearly always leads to an uncomfortable series of status updates down the road, eventually making your way to It’s Complicated and then the notice to your friends that you’re Single…again.

You have to remember that Facebook was designed for college students. That’s why there’s no Separated under relationship status. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself:

The designers were clearly young and naïve...but obviously not so naïve that they didn't consider open relationships. They just weren't thinking that middle-aged people would join Facebook in droves, bringing much in the way of relationship baggage. While they may have envisioned It’s Complicated could cover everything from a long-distance relationship that’s up in the air to a repeated break-up/reconciliation/break-up cycle, they probably didn’t picture their parents using it for divorce #3.

Maybe there should be a Facebook group demanding that Separated be added as an official Facebook relationship status. But to tell you the truth, I don’t have much hope for that happening. You see, I started trying to get Separated added as an official marital status box on my church’s visitor forms in 1995. After 10 years of blank stares, I threw in the towel. Apparently married ministerial staff doesn’t see the point of a relationship status that would recognize the limbo that exists between Married and Divorced. Actually the blank stares offer some small comfort. All of these guys served in other churches before they came here, so this situation must not be unique to our church.

Here’s the problem with omitting Separated as an option. A separation is one of those major life events when many people are ready to turn to the church for support, but there’s no place on the visitor form for them to honestly report their current marital status. There’s only Married, Divorced, Single, or Widowed. If you’re separated and in the midst of a painful divorce, which box would you check? Married doesn’t work so most choose Divorced, even though an official divorce may be months or years off. So when people are at a point in life when the teachings of Christ tell us they should be open to the possibility of reconciliation, the church visitor form tells them they should consider their marriage over. The form says it’s OK not just to lie to others about your marital status, but it’s even OK to lie to yourself. There’s something wrong with that picture.

Hmmm, I wonder if I should suggest a checkbox for It's Complicated...

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm...good thoughts. We probably are presumptuous to put any of those boxes on our stuff. As people find connection (relationship) they will share with us what they are comfortable sharing with us. Premature disclosure (before people are ready) is uncomfortable, awkward, and mostly for us, so we'll know where to place them, not for them. Keep writing...