Dating on social media is a minefield, from 'soft launching' a new boyfriend (debuting him on Instagram with a picture of his hand just in shot), to negotiating a public break-up (I'll never not be entertained by Marc Jacobs decision to announce his split from Harry Louis by Instagraming a picture of them with a shattered glass filter. Simple. Chic. Unhinged.) Things were simpler before ghosting, orbiting and breadcrumbing - but no less fraught. In the mid-noughts, any 'What are we?' conversation between couples had a simmering subtext: 'When precisely can we link our Facebook profiles?' For a few short, sweet years, there was no greater high than updating your status to 'in a relationship'. The downside was inevitably having to spam your friend's timelines with the news that you were, once again, single. Worse still was suffering the tragedy of having your status set to 'it's complicated', internet speak for 'he'll sleep with me but won't introduce me to any of his friends.'
Female giraffes urinate on prospective suitors. Male scorpion flies spit at female mates. Still, no flirtation ritual in the history of the known universe has been less dignified than 'poking' your crush on Facebook. I would like to meet the happily married couples who met this way. Except they don't exist.
Before iPhones, there were digital cameras, used to document nights out with the kind of forensic detail usually reserved for high profile crime investigations. As a thought experiment, 'If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?', was replaced with, 'If you left the house with friends, and didn't immortalise it in a 60 photo album with a self-consciously whimsical title, did it even happen?' Mornings after the night before were devoted to trawling through 400 hazy pictures, agonisingly debating which to post on Facebook, before deciding on each and every single one (including a blurred shot of the inside of a cab and an arty close-up of a strangers dropped kebab).
Humans have always sought metrics to gage their own popularity. In Paleolithic times, it was calculated by how many people slept in your cave. In the seventies, it was how many phone numbers populated your rolodex. In the noughts? It was how many people wrote 'happy birthday, legend' on your Facebook wall. Like the regional manager of a mid-tier stationary business, I'd set myself yearly targets, and be crestfallen if they weren't met. These days, birthday messages on your Facebook wall are the sole preserve of semi-estranged aunts and uncles, who communicate exclusively in Minions memes, for reasons unknown.
Humour is notoriously subjective, but we can all agree that waiting until your friend went to the toilet and setting their status to '… has gone for a poo' was hilarious. It just works. Don't overthink it.