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Social media has made absolutely every aspect of our lives visible, and that includes our relationships. Facebook has been complicating relationships ever since “it’s complicated” was introduced as an option, and now it’s introduced an anniversary feature where disgustingly happy couples can celebrate their mutual besottedness.
There’s even a trend where social media clauses are being introduced into prenups.
But what if you don’t want to go public? There are many reasons to not share every aspect of your life with strangers. No longer being single might mean messing with your narrative, and being public property when you’re both in the public eye, at least on social media, can be a strain. Then there are the trolls lying in wait with their bait, and who wants members of the peanut gallery commenting on that most personal of life choices?
How then do you keep your relationship out of social media when every aspect of our lives is relentlessly documented?
As it turns out, it’s easy. I’ve documented incredibly personal aspects of my life on social media, and if I can keep a serious relationship out of the public eye, then anyone can.
Here are 10 tips for keeping your relationship below the social media radar:
1. Never tag your significant other
I’ve been involved with reasonably well known people on Twitter more than once, and appeared holding hands with significant others in real life – but if you aren’t tagged it didn’t happen, and Twitter and Facebook didn’t have a clue. If you’re going to change your relationship status on Facebook, then don’t tag your other half either – obviously.
2. Never post images in which the two of you appear together
Whether it’s a selfie or a photo taken by someone in your private space, make sure it doesn’t get out. See point 4.
3. Being seen in public together isn’t a problem if you’re at an event where your Twitter circles don’t overlap
One of you is recognised, but the other isn’t, so that’s fine.
4. Make sure your dinner party guests know not to tag you either
Let them know when they arrive that you have your reasons for not going public, and ask them not to let slip.
5. Distraction and deflection are your friends
Tweet about internet dating. Conveniently, I ran a campaign which involved pretending to be a car pretending to be a person on dating sites just as I started dating again. To Facebook and Twitter, I was as single as I’d always been.
6. Let others make assumptions
Most people don’t follow you that closely. Only the more dedicated followers will notice that things have changed.
7. Avoid identifying details
Don’t post images of your partner’s home or kids to Instagram or Facebook. Be careful not to share too much in a tweet.
8. Turn off your location
Sharp-eyed observers will soon notice if both your updates are coming from the same location. Don’t check into the same locations on Facebook or Foursquare either.
9. Negotiate who gets to tweet about what you are doing
If you both tweet about being somewhere, someone will notice the coincidence. The other night, the other half tweeted about being in a very specific spot just after I fired off a tweet. Luckily, Cell C is terrible everywhere so the tweet didn’t go through. The same rule applies to Facebook, Instagram and Foursquare.
10. Maintain your level of interaction
Yes, Facebook can predict when you’re about to get into a relationship, but suddenly going quiet or very obviously ignoring someone you used to be on friendly terms with can be suspicious.
My significant other and I will have to go public on social media at some point, if only because maintaining this level of discretion will eventually become more trouble than it’s worth.
But until then, we’re perfectly happy not to tag.
Image: UK Ministry of Defence via Flickr.