We’ve all seen the rise and fall of relationships on social media.
The feverish spreading of new love across platforms via quasi porno pictures and wet, gushing declarations.
Sickly sweet as the oversharing may be, it is sad when it becomes clear that the flush of romance has chilled. There is stoney silence, passionate pictures are replaced with forlorn quotes or status updates suddenly hang heavy with depressed philosophising.
We are not the only ones to notice the rhythms of relationships on social media.
Facebook, it seems, can predict the rise and fall, perhaps even more accurately than we can.
Data statisticians from Facebook have tracked anonymous couples around the world as they are single, fallling in love, in a relationship and single again.
Conducted over nearly three years, the researchers found a pattern emerging.
“During the 100 days before the relationship starts, we observe a slow but steady increase in the number of timeline posts shared between the future couple,” they said.
“When the relationship starts [“day 0″], posts begin to decrease.”
A couple-in-the-making reaches peak post 12 days before the relationship begins, before a post trough 85 days into the relationship.
“Presumably, couples decide to spend more time together, courtship is off, and online interactions give way to more interactions in the physical world,” they said.
Although posts are less frequent “the content of the interactions gets sweeter and more positive”.
As we settle into the warmth of a relationship we (thankfully) move away from the web and into the arms of the one we’re with.
But for the relationships that end, it makes many feverish again. This time around, as the bereft reach out again over the social media, the tone is decidedly different.
The researchers observed a plus-225 per cent increase of the average volume of Facebook interactions on the day a person splits from their partner as they reach out for comfort and support.
These “gradually stabilise over the course of a week to levels higher to those observed pre-breakup,” the team said. “This points towards people receiving support from their friends in times where they need it, whether it comes in the form of private messages, timeline posts or comments.”