In the last month three male friends have told me not to tag them on facebook. Faced with the prospect of deletion, and guilted by the new-found knowledge that I threaten a fragile relationship with their girlfriend, or their ex, it shines the spotlight on something utterly fascinating: facebook, the network that everybody loves to hate, presents us with a stellar opportunity for personal growth.
We wield our freedom to tag, comment, invite and share with wild abandon, yet hearts are breaking and relationships are ending. The spiralling lack of control we have over who sees, says, and does what is challenging the boundaries of our deeper relationships. Facebook represents the full spectrum of the relationships in your life, from your mother to your colleague and everything in between. If you let us, we all know who your friends are, what you like, what you hate, what you think, and what you're having for breakfast. It's come to this: simple actions like tagging and friending present the challenges we need to help us grow up.
You don't want to be tagged because your ex will quiz you on the attractive stranger sitting on your left at last night's party? Because you just can't face the Spanish inquisition? Let's take a quick look behind the scenes. Are we dealing with your inability to extricate yourself from a relationship that is over, or your desire to maintain a certain level of drama in your life? Do you really want to have to hide everything you do and everyone you meet from a jealous ex? Why are you making yourself available for this dialogue? Guilt? Love? Handle the residual heat between you and it could turn into an opportunity to create space in your life.
You don't want to be tagged because your mother will think I'm your girlfriend? Because she comments on how cute we look and asks you to add more pics? Dude. She's your mother. She loves to see your life in photos. You're her baby and she gets excited to see you smiling all over the world, whoever you're with. If you can't handle her seeing and commenting on your photos, you could delete her from facebook. But remember: mothers around the globe are reclaiming voices we silenced as teenagers. She's connected to you again and she loves it. Humour her, tag her, chat to her; or delete her. Also consider: Her greatest desire might be to see you in a relationship, but maybe it's time to communicate and set the record straight: it's an opportunity to speak your truth and re-establish a connection with your amazing mum.
What if YOU are the person who freaks out over their partners is now friends with updates or photo tags? Have you considered whether you are mature enough to be in a relationship? Have you perhaps pondered the importance of trust as a core foundation for a lasting one? Is it ok for your loved one to have acquaintances and friends outside of your relationship, or, God forbid, have fun without you? Maybe its time to own your insecurities rather than projecting them onto your partner. Figure out where these feelings come from and how you can transform them into being more loving, and more trusting.
In an increasingly connected world, transparency and authenticity are available to whatever degree you want to explore it, but do you want to? If you don't, the question is: Why? And what opportunities does that present for enlightenment?