By Warima Muggy.
Recently, one of my classmates and friends put us to a challenge on social media-Facebook to be more specific. It was about comparing yourself on the basis of years, this year and another that he would give you. The parameters for comparison were age, place of residence, occupation, relationship status and level of happiness. So I took up the challenge and my year was 2013. Just to preempt, my post of that challenge had slightly over 20 likes. I am a person who really does not take care about likes and comments on social media posts. I post to inform, inquire, resonate or share some specific knowledge. I am open minded enough to know that some people will benefit from the information regardless of whether they like or comment on it or not. But the likes on this post got to me.
To engage you deeper, it would be important to let you know that my current relationship status on the post read; ‘in an understanding of a romantic nature.’ This is what caused all the fuss. The comments and likes started streaming in. Some said they liked the relationship status, others said that I had introduced a new relationship status and Facebook should incorporate it, someone asked if they could steal the relationship status. One of my responses to these comments was;” Hehe relationships are tricky these days; you can claim to be with someone then akuoshe. Talk of playing safe.” Before I lose you, the term ‘kuoshwa’ in my school’s slang means being duped. So in essence according to me, my statement meant you don’t go around telling people about your relationships and after a short time you are no longer together with the person. However to other people this statement translated to me being afraid of claiming to be in a relationship with a specific person coz they might deny it. One person actually asked me if I was in an open relationship. To make it more serious, some of my friends whom I had not spoken to in a while contacted me that day after seeing the post. One of my friends actually called it ‘some creative word play’
I understand to some reasonable extent what the fuss was all about. First of all, my generation is a digital one. We live half our lives on social media and this includes our relationships. Secondly, in the past, I have been told that I am a miser with personal information especially about my dating life (you are very mistaken, if you interacted with my friends or family they would surely tell you they are tired of listening to me rumble on and on.) Thirdly I am a passionate feminist and most people are trying to figure out, what crazy person would be willing to put up with me with all my feminist ideologies. However, none of these contributed to my reasons for that status. And on a serious note, that is my real and true relationship status, it is not a social media PR strategy. Like I told one of my friends who commented, “dating or in a relationship cannot suffice as a description for my love life status so you have to accept what I am offering and limit the vivid imagination.” I have been termed as unconventional, which I accept wholeheartedly. Most human beings are comfortable with familiarity and status quo so whenever you introduce something new, it is likely to stir up some waters.
Now to the real reason behind this post, I will be brief about it but I cannot promise it will not rub off some people the wrong way especially my fellow women. That is the reason this is my space and therefore I reserve the rights to speak my personal opinions. First, let me clarify that I have got nothing against the persons who go public with their relationships. It is a bold move but not for everybody. When you decide to share your love life with the world, you put yourself and the other person in an extremely vulnerable situation. Whatever either of you does, the other person will be dragged into it whether willingly or unwillingly. Even when you break up, people will still want to forcefully associate the two of you. Cases in point are Selena Gomez and Justin Beiber, Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift. Closer home, we have Diamond Platinumz and Wema Sepetu. Sometimes, people will treat you as a by-product of the other person. Even when you have your own success, people will not recognize it because they already have a formed opinion of who you are in relation to another person. It becomes worse when you break up in nasty circumstances and you have to pull down any evidence that links the two of you together. However the most annoying for me is when people start defining you by your relationship, even the people who knew you before this relationship.
In one of my favorite series, Grey’s Anatomy, Dr. April Kepner who is the personal assistant to Dr. Derek Shepherd who is now the Chief of Surgery is asked to confirm whether Dr. Meredith Grey (who is Derek’s wife) will attend a function with Dr. Shepherd and she refers to Dr. Grey as Mrs. Shepherd. Meredith corrects Dr.Kepner and asserts she will be referred to as Dr. Grey and not Mrs. Shepherd. It is interesting to note Dr. Kepner who has known Dr. Grey for a while because they worked together as surgical residents find a reason to disregard her credentials as a doctor and label as someone’s wife. I do not blame her; this is how the world is. I urge you to always remember that you are an individual first before being identified as someone’s wife, mother, husband, sister. Never lose your own identity. The group that saddens me the most is the young girls who call themselves their boyfriend’s names on social media. My heart breaks for them and their parents. What reason justifies the need to identify yourself with someone even before they are your official spouse? God forbids, what happens when you break up? Do you drop his name and assume that of the next person you date? So in the end when you are getting married, who do we identify you with? Your current spouse or those in the past? When you put your relationship out there, you are signing up for a life of public scrutiny.
So no, I am not afraid to be denied publicly. I mean, who would deny an awesome person like me? (Hehe just kidding). I am the only one who signed up to share my thoughts with the public. It would be unfair to drag anyone else’s name in it. Everyone deserves a chance to make mistakes and walk away from them without being constantly reminded of their shortcomings. So for the benefit of everyone, can we have and accept more relationship statuses like ‘I am in an understanding of a romantic nature’? Plus I would not mind any royalties that come with social media incorporating it as one of their own; after all doesn’t my name betray me?
Muggy is a passionate writer of social affairs. Email: email@example.com