That’s a tad extreme, but I’m seeing the suggestion more and more often that a missing Facebook account raises red flags. After a woman found out via Facebook that a man who’d ‘poked’ her in real life had a long term girlfriend, she turned to digital manners advice givers Farhad Manjoo and Emily Yoffe of Slate to ask whether she should tell the girlfriend. They said she should and then went on a digression about transparent romances in the age of Facebook:
Farhad: I think we’ve mentioned it before that if you are going out with someone and they don’t have a Facebook profile, you should be suspicious.It’s not just love seekers who worry about what the lack of a Facebook account means. Anecdotally, I’ve heard both job seekers and employers wonder aloud about what it means if a job candidate doesn’t have a Facebook account. Does it mean they deactivated it because it was full of red flags? Are they hiding something?
Emily: Wait a minute. You may have mentioned that.
Farhad: I think I’ve recommended that. You know why, though? Imagine if this guy didn’t have a Facebook profile. That’s why. You should be suspicious of someone who is not making your relationship known publicly on a site like Facebook. I’m going to go on record with that.
Emily: I’m fine with people not having a Facebook page if they don’t want one. However, I think you’re right. If you’re of a certain age and you meet someone who you are about to go to bed with, and that person doesn’t have a Facebook page, you may be getting a false name. It could be some kind of red flag.
The idea that a Facebook resister is a potential mass murderer, flaky employee, and/or person who struggles with fidelity is obviously flawed. There are people who choose not to be Facebookers for myriad non-psychopathic reasons: because they find it too addictive, or because they hold their privacy dear, or because they don’t actually want to know what their old high school buddies are up to. My own boyfriend isn’t on Facebook and I don’t hold it against him (too much).
But it does seem that increasingly, it’s expected that everyone is on Facebook in some capacity, and that a negative assumption is starting to arise about those who reject the Big Blue Giant’s siren call. Continuing to navigate life without having this digital form of identification may be like trying to get into a bar without a driver’s license.