Thank God Jane Austen didn’t Have Facebook to Deal with by Mattie Mould

Posted on February 10, 2013


I’m not an especially skilled Facebook stalker, nor do I find the activity anywhere nearly as interesting as re-reading J. K. Rowling interviews online. However, I have recently begun to wonder if those of the non-Facebook generation had it easier when it came to matters of the heart? Does ubiquitous (if slightly manipulated) information on your former paramour’s life make it easier to get over them or make it harder to move on? When it comes to break ups, break downs and breaks full-stop, is there any prescribed method to prevent the pain of watching someone’s life by viewing their profile?

Would Romeo have been as infatuated with Juliet if he’d seen photos of her on Facebook doing shots off of Mercutio’s stomach? Would Lizzy Bennet have been at all interested in Mr Darcy if she’d read his tweeting about the “less hot but smarter Bennet chick”? I don’t think so. Our modern interactions (when it comes to relationships) rely too heavily on the ease of social media. As described in HBO’s Girls there is a “totem of chat”: “at the bottom is Facebook followed by Gchat, then texting, then email, then phone. Face to face would of course be ideal, but it’s not of this time.”

Could Facebook have gotten in between this magic?

The trouble with all of today’s interactions (excluding phone and face to face) is that there is too much room for interpretation. I’m not the first to have accidentally insulted someone by inaccurately communicating tone in a quickly typed Facebook message – nor will I be the last. There is nothing more frustrating than having someone loose his or her cool over a comment that was meant to be funny. We of the Facebook generation haven’t yet learned restraint when it comes to online communication. While it is deemed trendy and cool to not be on Facebook at all, it is realistic to assume that for every person you stalk online, someone else is stalking you.

My parents wrote letters to each other from England to Australia while waiting to be reunited. This notion seems completely romantic and slightly archaic at the same time and yet it only happened about 25 years ago. This method of physically writing down your message and sending it through snail mail is ludicrous, I need my intense messages to be read instantaneously (otherwise I spend days agonising over what the reply will be). Perhaps this buffer of time is what our generation needs. Between my friends and I, heartbreak seems to happen with increasing regularity and relationships seem to be over increasingly quickly. I guarantee that at least 50 per cent of the time Facebook is responsible for the fights that precede the break. Are the days between letters what we’re missing? Do we simply require that little bit more time to collect our thoughts and really figure out what we want to say? There is nothing easier than quickly typing a message and hitting the send button before actually reading it through and decoding its meaning. If you ask me, there is nothing more true and permanent than pen and paper, but the reality is that paper can be burnt while online text will exist in the realm of the internet forever.

The big "F".

The big “F”.

Take any ex for example. Whether the split is a smooth transition to friendship or a tumultuous rage into unadulterated hell, Facebook will play a key role. For the obsessives out there it will be used to constantly know what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with – an extremely creepy thought. Shouldn’t there be some kind of security setting to screen out only those who you’ve previously dated?

It’s easy to drunk dial and leave an embarrassingly tearful message involving lots of “I love you” or “I hate you” and unfortunately it’s also easy to drunk Facebook. I recently discovered the horrible truth of drunk facebooking; it is permanent and it can be re-read over and over again until you have over analysed every possible meaning of every possible sentence…it’s exhausting. My only point here is that this would never happen if letter writing were still involved.

If I could give Facebook any advice it would be that if someone is trying to send a message at 3am and they’ve managed to misspell most of the words, have a little box pop up with just one short question:

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”

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