There was a time when we kept our grabby social media hands to ourselves. We kept our hastily scribble thoughts in journals, wrote our dreams in diaries that we kept in a shoebox under our beds.
And then Facebook came along.
As if poking someone repeatedly wasn’t (awkward) enough, Facebook has been quietly rolling out a new feature for testing in several countries: the “Ask” button. It’s a brilliant new way for friends (or should we say not-really-friends) to creep on you.
An “Ask” button? What more could you possibly want to know about people who turn internal monologues into status updates? Well, horror upon horrors, it turns out that there are some people on Facebook who haven’t updated every single inch of their profile, especially the oh-so-integral Relationship Status!
Back in the good old days, when John was interested in dating Jane, he’d try to hang out with her often, dial the numbers on his phone and ask her, or have his buddies gather more intelligence about Jane’s current relationship status.
Also read: An On-Off Affair With Facebook
Now, John just has to swing by Jane’s Facebook page, click the “Ask” button, and ask her what her “deal” is.
He can even send her an invitation to meet up for drinks in the comfort of his own bed, if he so chooses – the feature also requires you to send a status-related message to the user.
Jane, from the comfort of her own desk (I’m assuming) will now receive a request list from which she can then select her status that only John will be able to see. This means that a user’s status will remain private but visible to those who “ask”.
Is it just me, or does that sound painfully unromantic? Well, at least now I’ll be able to find out immediately if someone is really interested in getting to know me, or just wants to make sure there isn’t a jealous boyfriend ready to beat him up once he tries to chat me up.
Users can also make use of the “Ask” button to request information about a friend’s job, hometown, high school, current city – basically any detail that they haven’t filled out.
While the feature introduces Facebook as another way to find dates, the “Ask” button turns out to be a pretty useful marketing tool. Whenever you respond to a user’s “Ask”, you’re actually telling Facebook your relationship status (even if it’s not visible to the public) and in turn providing information to advertising and marketing from companies directed at certain demographics.
For this writer, though, the “Ask” button feels like just another shortcut that will leave us further lacking social skills and ability to make meaningful, real conversation. Why would we ever bother to meet friends for lunch when we could probe away at their lives from our keyboards? Chivalry and human interaction may be hanging on by a thin thread, but don’t let it die with the clicking of an “Ask” button.
Which side are you on? Are you a Poker, an Asker, or Team Human? Let us know in the comments!