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The Politics of ‘Liking’ Your Other Half on Social Media

Credit: FILTHYRATBAG

The scene is a familiar one: you’ve spent many, many minutes debating which fire selfie to set as your new Facebook profile picture. Phone in hand, you’ve scrolled up, down, up, down, up and down again through your various options. There’s the one of you at a festival, covered in mud and throwing a peace sign in the air like you just don’t care. There’s also the one in your bedroom, natural light on point with your very best houseplants in shot. There’s a million to choose from, but you’ve managed to whittle it down and finally picked ‘the one.’ It’s up. It’s done.

The natural next step here, as we all know, is to post an urgent message in the best friend’s Whatsapp group that goes something along the lines of “Insta please!!!” We all know what that message means when it comes through – you better double tap like your fingers are on fire or there’ll be hell to pay.

There’s an unspoken rule within female friendships; “thou shalt like one another’s selfies.” We don’t know why, and we don’t know how this rule came about, but it’s there. It’s undeniable. But what about when it comes to your significant other?

A chat with my boyfriend recently got me thinking about this topic in depth. I could explain the ins and outs of our discussion, or I could do classic girl overshare and screenshot that very conversation and insert it below. We’re all friends here.

Credit: Sara Macauley

The point he made was valid, and yet I couldn’t help but feel a prickle of annoyance on my skin. I know he likes me in real life, so why did I feel like he should also ‘like’ me in cyberspace too? The feeling of annoyance wasn’t at him for not liking my pictures, but for myself, for caring that he doesn’t.

In Frank Ocean’s ‘Facebook Story,’ we hear the tale of a man whose girlfriend broke up with him because he wouldn’t accept her as a friend on Facebook. In the tape recording, he says:

“I’m in front of you, I don’t need to accept you on Facebook. She started to be crazy.  Because I didn’t accept her, she thought I was cheating. She told me like, uh, It’s over. I can’t believe you. We were together for 3 years.”

When I first listened to the song, I thought “WOW what a pyscho, ending a 3-year relationship over Facebook.” And then, I thought….actually, I’m not sure I’d be ok with that either. I’m not a jealous person, and I don’t distrust my boyfriend in the slightest, but I think I’d also feel on edge if he didn’t want me to see his online life.

The impact that social media has on relationships is unchartered territory. In our parent’s generation, a phone call from the landline was the standard method of making plans, and the only way to check what your other half was up to was to physically be with them. Now, when you date someone, you date their online self too. Social media undeniably affects our lives in massive ways. It dictates trends, informs us of news and keeps us in the loop with our friends. It’s only natural that this impact would trickle into relationships, too.

Whether they like your photos or not, another debacle is whether you’re happy with your other half liking another person’s selfies on the reg. I know that many of my female friends have a problem with it, so much so that one recently said: “______ would NEVER like another girl’s selfie. He’s not that stupid.” Whilst I personally wouldn’t be fussed, I decided to delve a little deeper into the inner workings of the female mind and asked a few of my friend’s their opinion on the matter.

Chloe, 22, co-founder and Editor in Chief of FGRL SCLUB said:

I think your significant other has gotta like your pictures to show support. It matters to me, and I’d be pissed if they didn’t. I wouldn’t be mad if they liked other girl’s pictures if they were mates or celebrities. Exes though? They shouldn’t even be following them. I also think it’s important to take into account how active they are on social in general.

Maeve, 23, waitress said:

To be honest, if I had a boyfriend and I put up a new profile pic, I’d be sad if he didn’t like it. I would personally be ESPECIALLY annoyed if he didn’t like my pictures and then I saw him liking another girl’s selfie – that’s a no-no.

Megan, 22, student said:

Reminding your boyfriend or girlfriend to like your photo if they haven’t seen it is acceptable. If they said they had seen it, and they hadn’t liked it, I’d be fuming. When it comes to liking other people’s pictures, I’d be fine if they knew the girl, but if it was a random, I’d be like “what the fuck.” It’s just rude.

When I asked the girls why they thought they’d be annoyed if their partner didn’t like their selfies, some agreed it would make them feel like they didn’t look good, some said they’d get over it pretty quickly, and another said it makes them feel like their S.O has stopped making an effort.

The general consensus, I think, is that we’ve no fucking clue why we think what we think.

So nothing new there then.

All in all, I think I’ve concluded that a ‘like’ on social media is the same as a compliment in real life. It’s nice to get, it makes us feel loved and happy, but it’s not essential. In saying that, whilst I can live without the validation – I know I look alright – a surprise comment or ‘like’ here and there does no harm. It shows the person that you’re proud to be with them, and what’s a better feeling than that?

Boyfriends and girlfriends, take note.

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