FACEBOOK has found a new way of ruining everything.
Not content with giving us all body-image complexes and diluting the concept of ‘liking’ down so far that we think we like video tributes to people’s dead pets, it’s now introduced an ‘ask’ feature that allows friends to request info on, among other things, your relationship status.
I say ‘friends’, but, of course, that’s a diluted concept, too.
A friend can just ask. A friend already knows.
What we mean here is ‘creepy almost-stranger who has run out of socially-approved ways to hit on you’.
The formality of it adds an additional level of creepiness – where a flirty message written with actual words would do the job, this takes out any semblance of effort by laying out tick boxes, notably without the option to say: “Err, no comment.” It’s like a Freedom of Information request, but horrible.
To be fair, in recent years, things have got trickier for the Facebook romancers (whoever they may be).
Most of us have stopped listing a relationship status at all, because we learnt there is nothing more awful than changing it back to ‘single’ three months later and watching the concerned ‘sadface’ emoticons flood your wall.
By the time a new courtship is solid enough to risk the change, it also seems daft to declare it.
But just asking?
There’s something so incredibly un-British about it.
Everyone knows dating is meant to be a long, confusing dance of mystery and intrigue where everything is communicated through clues and euphemisms and accidentally turning up at the same events as each other until one day you happen to have three kids and a mortgage.
Asking is cheating.
Just as us coupled people have to find the exact right moment to casually drop in the fact we’re not single – too soon and it looks presumptuous, too late and they’ve bought you a monogrammed dressing gown – prospective amours are meant to find better ways of registering interest than simply asking.
Of course, the concern is that it’s not to help shy people and bored 16-year-olds find eternal love – it’s so information can be passed to advertisers, begging the question: what would they be trying to sell to me if they knew I had a boyfriend?
Spa retreats? Engagement rings? Bicycles made for two?
The adverts on my current Facebook feed are for skin products, bread, Topshop and Foxy Bingo.
I definitely liked three of those things when I was single, and the other one I’ve never let myself try for fear I would like it too much.
Meanwhile, my boyfriend’s feed is trying to sell him cars, glucose monitors, broadband and, curiously, Foxy Bingo.
So maybe Facebook knows we’re compatible after all.