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I can't remember a time when people didn't define relationships by how they were presented on Facebook. Maybe that's because Facebook started becoming popular when I was in middle school.

Nowadays, if teen couples don't make their relationship Facebook official, it's not considered valid. It doesn't become real until there is a status change from "single" to "in a relationship." Have we teenagers become so stupid that we can't recognize a relationship when we see one, or is it just that social media has become paramount in our lives?

(Craig White/Bradenton Herald/MCT)

I'd like to think it's for the latter reason. We rely on the Internet to tell us everything we need to know about everyone else. Instead of valuing relationships by how they occur in real life, we value them by how many "likes" or comments they get on Facebook. This is our barometer for how meaningful the relationship is. Does that even make sense?

Yet couples eat it up. They take pictures of themselves kissing on a beach at sunset and post cute statuses declaring their undying affection for their significant other. When I see this, I always wonder, what are they trying to prove?


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If they're in love and they both know it, why do they have to share it with the world? Why do they view "likes" and comments as evidence that their love is real? It is because, as teenagers living in a digitally dominated world, we place a high value on online opinion. In doing so, we forget what the essence of romance is. A romance is not measured by how many likes you get on that picture of you with your boyfriend, but how much you truly enjoy his personality and conversation.

After all, there's a reason why it's called a relationship. You relate to the person you're with -- not the entire online world. If you are content with your relationship, you don't need to look for another's verification. There would be no reason to take passionate pictures or write dramatic statuses.

When couples break up, they immediately start posting angry statuses and deleting every picture they took with his or her boyfriend/girlfriend. While before she wanted proof that the relationship was real, now she wants to deny that it ever existed. And, of course, Facebook lets you erase those memories from sight. A few months later, a new relationship is formed, and all the declarations of love emerge again. Sigh.

Call me old-fashioned, but I miss the days when love was a private thing and not broadcast to everyone in town. I miss the days when couples were embarrassed to be seen kissing in public, much less photographed kissing by others. I miss the days when people learned from prior relationships before entering another one. And most of all, I miss when people wrote about romance in journals instead of using the Internet as their own personal diary.

The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write for the features sections. Emily Hoeven is a junior at Washington High School in Fremont. Reach her at lip@bayareanewsgroup.com.