For the Facebook generation, love now comes with a drop-down menu.
With profiles on the Facebook social networking site (www.facebook.com) almost de rigueur on college campuses, students can define their relationship status with menu choices ranging from "Married" to that perennial favorite, "It's complicated".
"It's complicated" could also describe the emotional calculations people in their late teens and early 20s make as they decide whether their relationships are what they call "Facebook-worthy".
For Stephanie Endicott and Marcus Smallegan, first year students at George Washington University, announcing to the world that they had found love in a college dorm was a no-brainer.
"It was important for me to share this with my friends since I'm so far away," said Endicott as she clasped Smallegan’s hand on a park bench on the campus, The university is 4,800 km away from her home in Maple Valley, Washington.
"Neither of us had been in a really good relationship before and ours turned out really good really fast," added Smallegan, who had posted a relationship on Facebook once before, only to have that girl move out of state and break up with him via a text message on his cell phone.
Some of their friends, however, have had less harmonious Facebook experiences. Both Endicott and Smallegan know of other college students who thought they were in a relationship - only to have it all blow up when they tried to link their two Facebook profiles as a couple, an option that requires the consent of both parties.
"It was this major emotional crisis breakdown," Smallegan said of a close friend at a Midwestern university who was heartbroken when her cyberlink was rebuffed by a young man who thought they were "just friends".
Not all students post their relationship status. For some, it's a matter of privacy. For others, it's all about marketability.
"I have NEVER changed my Facebook status - it has always been single, even when I started to get involved with girls. I think it's better this way, until you are VERY serious, because people look, people talk, etc, and unless it is super-serious it can ruin any chance with any other girl!" wrote one young man in an email, who asked that his name be withheld to avoid alienating his current and many ex-girlfriends.
But for many couples, being "Facebook-worthy" confers a status on a relationship.
When a couple was "going steady" in the 1950s, the young man might have let his girlfriend wear his Varsity team sweater or given her his fraternity pin. But the 1960s swept aside those rituals. Now the Facebook link has become a publicly-recognized symbol of a reasonably serious intent, short of being engaged or moving in together.
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Bernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.