Teen Facebook Marriages — Congenial or Concerning?

“Guess what, guys?” one of my friends said last week as they made their way into the circle of our group. “We’re married!” he said with a laugh, grabbing the hand of one of my other friends and raising it in the air with a grin. “Why weren’t we invited to the wedding?” I wanted to ask, but ever the agreeable friend, I restrained. We all had a bit of a giggle and sure enough, that night when we all logged onto Facebook, it appeared that Jake and Elly were newlyweds, both of their statuses now saying ‘married’. Everyone quickly moved on and I’m sure it was immediately forgotten by everyone else, not being significant enough to register, but I couldn’t help but ponder the topic for awhile longer.

Facebook marriages have become the flavour of the month at my school; to friends of the same sex, friends of the opposite sex, a mere acquaintance whose profile picture is looking pretty good and might make a crush jealous. I know that nobody is taking it seriously and it’s all just a joke, but, personally, I can’t see the funny side. Maybe I’ve missed the joke. Or maybe it’s just another one of those trends that means nothing and is basically pointless. I’ll go with the latter.

Perhaps it’s because we’ve just had the Royal Wedding, a union which seems like a true, real-life fairytale, that Facebook marriages seem not only extremely childish, but demeaning to the traditional meaning of marriage. In a modern society that has the highest divorce rates ever recorded, the importance of this life commitment is being quickly diminished. Nobody sees marriage as important as it once was, and I know that’s because times are changing. Now, I don’t disagree with change. In fact, I am extremely glad for some of the changes; I am glad I can work and get a job where I can make my own money and support myself. I am glad that I have the choice to be the ‘worker’ in a family, or the stay-at-home parent should I choose to have kids in the future. I am glad that women can now have a say and write their own novels and articles and songs. I mean, imagine if we were back in the early 1800’s; I certainly wouldn’t be writing this, and not just because the internet wasn’t even invented. While I am thankful that these changes have occurred, I still value marriage and, to me, the act of posting online that you’re married to someone when you’re not is belittling the long lasting tradition.

Call me a romantic if you wish, but I have seen a functional marriage, so I know that they exist. My parents married young, and after eighteen years together, are still happy and totally in love. While my three younger sisters have also observed this and know that happy relationships do exist in a time where divorce and broken families have become the norm, sometimes they can’t help but participate in the latest craze. My fourteen year old sister is married. On Facebook, that is. First it was to this boy, who she adamantly denies is her boyfriend. “Oh no, Amy. We just have a thing.” A thing? That’s right, she was married to a boy who with she only had a thing. There was no like, no really like and certainly no love. Just a whole big thing, really. And needless to say, that didn’t last long. When they did become officially ‘divorced’, within ten minutes she was already asking my opinion on who she should marry next. The habits of a future serial wife, perhaps? Maybe. I’m more inclined to believe, and desperately hope, that these antics only belong to her latest attempt to fit in.

This only helps to support my opinion that Facebook marriages are stealing all that is meaningful to real marriages and true love. They literally mean nothing. I mean, straight people are married to other straight people of the same gender. Friends, like Jake and Elly, are married to friends who do not see each other as anything other than friends and will never, ever be anything more. The things I usually associate with marriage, such as love, care, dedication and serious commitment, are disappearing because now I hear the word ‘marriage’ multiple times in a day, and unfortunately it isn’t just because people have been talking about Kate and Wills. Now I think of the internet and flippancy and immaturity, because generally that’s all the Facebook ‘married’ status is used for. I just don’t see the need to say you’re ‘married’ when you’re not. And more to the point, do we really need to tell the whole world?

Perhaps it really is just the latest stab at popularity. ‘Hey world, I can get a husband! See?’ From what I’ve seen, I think this is probably the case, yet I’m still struggling to understand and can’t say I agree with it. To me, it is mocking the sincerity of marriage and taking away the positives associated with the union of two people. Not only that, doesn’t anyone else find it a bit weird? I mean teenagers are saying that they are married, when they’re not, and to people they would never, ever really marry. Needless to say, my status will never read ‘married’ until after I’m actually wed to someone I love.

As for Jake and Elly, they’ve both been through a horrific divorce, but claim that they still remain friends. You see, Elly actually liked a boy in real-life and when they got together she wanted to put up a real status of ‘in a relationship’ with her new boyfriend. Don’t feel sorry for straight Jake, though. He went on to remarry, swapping rings, or rather Facebook statuses, with his best friend, Mike. But don’t worry, Jake and Elly’s Facebook relationship has not ended there. Now there are multiple posts about the naughty affair that is happening between them behind the backs of their respective partners, but shh, don’t tell Mike.