Is it just me or has there been an upsurge of people using Facebook’s Poke feature in recent months?
For those of you unfamiliar with the feature, the Poke is a relic from Facebook’s past that inexplicably still exists despite the number of transformations the site has undergone since the platform first emerged on Harvard’s campus (from Zuckerberg’s genius) all those years ago.
The Facebook Poke was traditionally sent by one of two kinds of people: your Best Friend Forever, for no reason besides giving you a notification, or a potential love interest in hopes of sparking a response – akin to trying to catch someone’s eye IRL.
In the years’ since the platform’s inception, the way people use Facebook has changed. Rather than a place to connect and meet people, it’s become a place where you connect only with people you know and only then, if you want to keep up with their personal lives. Correct me if I’m wrong but in 2007, it wasn’t that surprising to receive a friend request from a stranger, who just happened to share the same name as you, from half way around the world. Poking just didn’t make sense anymore; for those of us using it as a means to a friendly reminder you still exist, a private message would suffice, or if you’re like me, incessantly ‘liking’ their posts until they notice you: *Ping* “Hey, what’s up?”.
Meanwhile, those looking for love, wear out their thumbs swiping through Tinder matches, while narrowing their parameters in hopes of finding someone in particular – don’t tell me you haven’t tried.
However, the return of these ambiguous notifications in my inbox, (mostly from guys of a similar age, with whom I share a mutual friend or two), makes me wonder, what’s changed?
With the proliferation of dating apps, like Tinder, Happn and Bumble in the first half of the twenty tens (2010s), is it that people are finally getting tired of endless swiping and are hankering for something more traditional? Something more innocuous than a swipe left or right, based simply upon a filtered picture and a chat up line in their bio?
So The Question is: To Poke or Not To Poke
Poking someone means nothing and everything all at once. With there being no way to personalise a poke, the recipient is left to interpret the notification as they will, regardless of the sender’s intent. So why do it?
- More direct than simply liking someone’s posts. If they’re popular on social media, a poke is more likely to get their attention.
- At the same time it’s subtle. It doesn’t state your intentions outright and if you get ignored, it leaves you open to walk away, head held high.
- Nowadays, a poke can be seen as ironic – perhaps, demonstrating the GSOH that every dating profile lists but very few actually offer.
- It’s flattering – despite the recent uptake, unless you’re fast and loose with your pokes, receiving a poke yourself is still a rarity.
On the other hand…
- A poke doesn’t have an obvious step forward. Being ballsy with a message is much more direct and could be more likely to elicit a response. Whether that’s the start of a conversation or an end is another matter.
- If the recipient isn’t on the same wavelength, a poke can come out of left field, producing unwelcome thoughts of a Poke’s physical equivalent.
What do I think?
Despite the ambiguity of it’s intention, I’m not ashamed to say I’m enjoying the Poke’s return to popularity. Playful and old-school, receiving a ‘poke’ is nostalgic, reminding me of a time before Tinder, before Hinge and Raya, when a boy might seek you out on Facebook but be too nervous to ask for a date out right.
The best part? There’s no pressure to reply. The patient poke has an open door policy, and who knows how I’ll feel about the sender two months down the line, or even a year.
Go on, why not make someone’s day? POKE!