Turning the key in the front door of your parent’s house at 5.30am after spending the entire night out.
Buying a Nickelback album for your ‘sister’.
Binge-watching a Teen Mom 2 marathon on MTV.
Eating an entire block of cheese.
Some things you just want to do quietly.
About eight years ago, my dear friend Lauren decided, for no other reason than to tidy up her profile page (remember when you used to list all the music and books and TV you liked and all that jazz, then spent all weekend fine-tuning it?) she would make her relationship private.
So she simply deleted it. No big deal.
But she was about to learn that you can’t get away with anything on Facebook without your audience knowing about it.
I remember it playing out on my newsfeed.
On Facebook, if you delete your relationship, or alter it in any capacity, Facebook will announce it.
But it won’t just announce the change, it’ll assume the worst.
For instance, shortly after logging off, Lauren started to get a barrage of texts from people asking if she was OK and what the hell happened.
In a panic, she logged back on to find that Facebook not just made her amendment, it assumed that by deleting the relationship status, that they had actually broken up.
For this couple, it was huge, it would be like if Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick split up.
Hang on. Wait. No.
It’d be like Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale… no wait.
OK, it would be exactly like if Ben Affleck and Jen… arrrgh.
You get the idea.
You could understand why everyone was going out of their collective minds.
Facebook had basically announced this ‘split’ with a giant banner and a universally acknowledged picture of a broken heart.
I mean, sweet Jesus. What if it was amicable, what if it was a situation where there was pure relief rather than a deflated dream? Although we’ve been conditioned to do so, not every split has to end with a broken heart.
Anyway, at this point, Lauren was pretty much in damage-control.
And while IRL she didn’t have to explain anything about her personal, private relationship and it’s so-called status, Facebook, however, was forcing her to do so.
I mean, she had originally displayed it for all to see, right? So it’s really her fault, right?
No, not right.
Because everyone has the right to change their minds.
In this case, without warning, Facebook made her publicly pay for her digital footprint, which ironically, was to make something private.
Did Facebook do the same when I deleted John Mayer, Limp Bizkit or Good Charlotte from my music lists years ago?
But relationships? Crikey O’Reilly, that’s totally everyone’s business, amirite?
Just quietly, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been seeing a bloke.
Shortly after adding him on Facebook, he – quite rightly – texted me ‘you’re married..?’
Now we had briefly spoken about it, but I guess having not making it ‘Facebook official’ can send some mixed messages.
But like any misunderstanding, a conversation to fill one in can avoid a lot of conclusion-jumping and egg-shell walking.
Technically, yes I am still married, but technically, I’m in that awkward phase of ‘legally separated’, which in normal-speak can mean: ‘nope, they could totally still get back together, not convinced with this one, time to put my guard up’, but in my case it’s merely a preamble to the inevitable trip to D-town.
The thing is, my relationship status on Facebook was the last thing on my mind.
But the truth was I had left my relationship status alone (for, what is it now, 18 months?) because I was terrified of pulling a Lauren and having a newsfeed stuffed full of completely depressing commiserations. Especially when, for The Mister and I, this been a really positive and amicable experience (to which a stack of people still don’t believe).
But this guy was fresh off the boat and no wonder he was twitchy about my conflicting Facebook status and my status IRL. And he was right, I needed to amend it, I mean, it was incorrect.
So I changed it.
And no one noticed.
Not one person.
So how was I able to wield such Facebook sorcery?
The trick is, first of all, do not be hasty in making these changes, one foot wrong and it will be immediately Zuckerberg’d to the world and that horse can’t be unbolted.
Second of all, type exactly what you want to do into Google.
I typed this: ‘How can I change my Facebook relationship status with absolute stealth’, which resulted in ‘How can I hide my relationship status?’ on the Facebook help page.
This is how it’s done…
- Go to your profile
- Click About
- Click Family and Relationships
- Hover over the Relationship box and click Edit
- In the audience selector, choose Only Me
- Hit save
Congratulations, you just shape-shifted your relationship status in complete and utter silence.