While you might be getting fed up with the latest date photos, movie theater check-ins, or sappy “I have the best relationship” posts, the Facebook data heads are eating it up. As it turns out, the 100 days leading up to the moment you each click “I do” and make your relationship “Facebook Official” offer a special window into the development from friend, to fling, to a “thing.” Earlier in February, The Atlantic published a revealing article about what Facebook data analysts are learning about our love life.
According to the Facebook Data Science Blog post, “During the 100 days before the relationship starts, we observe a slow but steady increase in the number of timeline posts shared between the future couple. When the relationship starts (“day 0”), posts begin to decrease.” But what about the pseudo-relationships? How can Facebook be sure the data they collected isn’t skewed by all the fake, or satirical relationships out there? The article outlines several measures taken to confirm the trustworthiness of this information. For example, only those relationships which declared an anniversary (not just those who simply changed their status from “single” to “in a relationship”).
The study of how couples interact with technology online and offline seems to be a field ripe for analysis. Ever wonder why men tend to clam up about their feelings offline but are willing to share openly online with their 350 closest friends on Twitter? Think you’re the only one who texts your partner while they’re in the other room? Nope, about one in four couples are in that boat according to the Pew Research Internet Project. So what does all of this study mean? Some see gloom and doom (Facebook ruins relationships, you know…), while others are quick to offer “Do’s and Dont’s”.
In a relationship or not, it’s well-established that talking about yourself or your relationship is very popular online–and even intrinsically rewarding. Studies show that we humans dedicate 30-40% of our speech entirely to sharing our subjective feelings and experiences with others. So whether or not a couple decides to make it “official” online is only part of the issue. The reality is, the frontier of today’s relationships now includes navigating how each person will or will not engage with social media. No two relationships are alike and how each couple chooses to be present online will be unique.
So whatever your relationship posts online turn out to be – glory stories or horror stories – just keep in mind, it’s not just your network who’s watching…so are those data loving employees at Facebook.