Social media — heck, the Internet in general — gives people the cojones to say and do things they probably would never say or do in real-life situations. That’s been demonstrated time and again by the carefree usage of the ‘it’s complicated’ relationship status. Hmph. Show me a sane man or woman who’s willing to stand face-to-face with their mate and reduce their love affair to that dismal two-word euphemism and I’ll take a stab at my first back handspring.
So when I read that Facebook has now added the option to list ‘civil union’ and ‘domestic partnership’ among the list of relationship statuses, I was, unlike other people, a little dismayed.
Bigots, religious zealots, overly nosey trolls, and flat-out crazy folk patrol Facebook for fans to flame and fires to start. All they need is to happen upon the profile of someone they know personally or even a complete stranger minding their own business in gay-sounding coupledom to set off a wave of harassment and cyberstalking. As if people needed any more information to use on the Internet to fuel their bullying ways. We have enough headline-making news about homophobia as it is.
Usually, I’m so happy-go-lucky and optimistic that it’s darn near irritating, but I can see this leading to a load of trouble, especially for teens and young adults caught up in that newfound freedom of being out. They may be excited about it, but many of their peers are still unfortunately hampered by prejudices and locked into their parents’ stone age, anti-gay, “homosexuality is wrong and/or contagious” mentality.
You know what else I can see happening? One person being ready to shout their love from the mountaintops while the other is still clamoring in the closet, or a bad breakup leading to a spiteful outing of the other person. Just like someone who announces to Facebook — and with that, almost half of the doggone world — that their relationship is complicated, a man, woman, boy, or girl who declares and basically outs themselves better have a) some pretty stringent security settings unless they’re b) packing some pretty thick skin (a full can of mace wouldn’t be a bad idea, either).
I’m all for celebrating this victory for my LGBT friends but I’d take this one with a grain of caution. It makes gay bashing that much easier for the jerks and predators out there.
Do the new Facebook relationship statuses pose a threat to personal safety?
Image via qthomasbower/Flickr