Do you 'Like' your spouse?
Social media has changed the way marriages work. Unlike in the good old days when being married meant you got to stay away from your spouse for at least eight to ten hours while you were at work, today you are compelled to receive updates about your significant other's life on social networking websites. Lalita Iyer weighs in the implications of being married in the time of Facebook and Twitter. Read on:
Lalita Iyer lives and works out of Mumbai where she has been a journalist writing for various publications including Times of India, Indian Express and Hindustan Times among others. Iyer is currently the managing editor at Filmfare and has only just released her book, I'm pregnant, not terminally ill, you idiot.
The pregnancy memoir, published by Amaryllis, is a tongue-in-cheek but a very, very real take on pregnancy in the Indian context.
(Read an excerpt from her book here)
Iyer, who has also written extensively on parenting, gender, food and relationships, writes an exclusive column for us about being married in the time of Facebook and Twitter.
The husband introduced me to Facebook six years ago. He of course, assumed I would add him as a friend, and me, not understanding the nuances of irreversibility in such a scenario, did exactly that. What an idiot I was! The day we got married, there was a race to change our status to 'married' from 'in a relationship.'
In the good old days, you married someone, you woke up, got ready, went to work, and then for the next eight to ten hours, you could live in a world blissfully unaware of each other (unless you had kids and there was logistics of school pickup/drop involved or some such)
Marriage has got exponentially more annoying since the advent of social media. Now, it is impossible to ignore the person you married, because the minute they are out of your sight, they pop up on your smart phones or computers, constantly reminding you that this is the person you married and made a baby with. Status updates began to be 'liked' and commented on in real time, as did photos and other documented annoyances of real life.
This destroys the whole purpose of marriage in my opinion. Marriage is the freedom to be rude, to veto, to have your way. All this syrupy politeness and mandatory likes, destroys the purpose and code of marriage in my opinion.
A friend recently posted on Facebook that her husband is always the first one to 'like' her status messages. She was actually gushing about it, and we are all supposed to gush along, as it the etiquette on social media , in this "awwww… that's so sweet, he really digs you" fashion.
Call me evil, but the first thought that came to my mind was "he is keeping tabs on you, moron!" or "Does he have a real job?"
The answer soon unfolded itself, when she revealed (after sufficient gloating in the collective gush) that they were 'pity' likes. The husband was going to be magnanimous and set the tone for the 'likes' , because according to him, people always 'like' what someone else had already 'liked', and he was okay being the first one.
I don't know about you, but I am not very good with reciprocal likes. Much as I am not good with reciprocal "I love yous" or "I miss yous". And I abhor emoticons.
So I was ignoring the husband on social media, as he posted selfies, or poured his heart out and proclaimed undying love for me, every time we returned after a weekend getaway or an annoying party (where he realised I was the most sensible company he had). He, on the other hand, likes every post, photo, or link I post, and thankfully, since I haven't set the trend to like him back, things are fine. (Statutory warning: The 'like' business is sort of irreversible. The more you 'like' the more you are expected to 'like').
Also, I didn't see so much of me when I was single as I see of him post marriage (perhaps it was liberating to be single in a pre-social media era.)
If Facebook was bad, Twitter is replete with pity-follows and pity-favorites and pity-retweets of spouses. Fortunately we are in different professions, so there is no real reason to keep acknowledging each other's work out of propriety, unless you really dig it, in which case you are doomed anyway.
I did try unfriending the husband on Facebook, after I felt over-commented and over-liked, and couldn't exactly reciprocate. It didn't go down well. People jumped to conclusions that the marriage was over. Then I had to marry him all over again, on social media, which is even worse than marriage in real life.
Facebook has this aura of politeness, this inclusiveness that makes it hard to take jibes at others while being their friend. With twitter it's much easier. I tried researching on whether I could selectively mute or render people invisible (fantastic option on twitter) but there was nothing discreet enough.
To me the ideal scenario would be one partner on social media and one off it. I really don't want to know who you have friended or who you are following. But in an era where even dogs, cars and toddlers have Facebook accounts , it's a bit unlikely.
So dear husband, don't expect me to like everything you say or do. Yes, I have raised the bar for your intellect post marrying you (didn't you know it was one of Shaadi Ke Side Effects?). I am drawing the line at twitter, no matter how many mentions you throw my way. Being married is work enough. I am not following you.
Lalita Iyer is the author of I'm Pregnant, Not Terminally Ill, You Idiot! and tweets on @Lalitude
Illustration: Dominic Xavier