In search of love, young Yemenis flock to Facebook
He sent her a message, saying, “We are good friends when others are around, but when it’s just us, we’re very shy. However, we’re both adults and can make educated, mature decisions. I want to ask you to marry me.”
The message wasn’t received quite like Fares hoped it would be; she replied saying, while flattered, she was already engaged and didn’t enjoy proposals via Facebook. But had Fares never sent the message, he might never have known.
“She doesn’t wear an engagement ring, so I thought that she was single,” he said. “She did wish me luck in finding a wife.”
Social media website Facebook, with its nearly 700 million users, is increasingly used to find love, stoke the fires of love or even to simply communicate emotions to people by those like Fares who have trouble talking to face-to-face.
Omar Saleh Al-Omaisi, 26, from Haja, said one of his friends “posts love notes and poems [on Facebook] because he’s in love with one of the girls on his friends list. He won’t send her a message, but he hopes she sees what he posts. She accidentally ‘liked’ one of his posts, and he was very happy. He’s still trying to get her attention through Facebook.”
According to Al-Omaisi, “It’s the best way for Yemeni’s to express love.”
According to a survey conducted last March by website Yemen Electronic, 269,000 Yemenis have Facebook accounts, one of the smallest country percentages of the website’s memberships.
Despite the prevalence of Facebook relationships, some doubt their success.
“Facebook is an imaginary world for many people,” Illam Al-Hadabi, a 24-year-old Yemeni woman from Taiz, said.
Al-Hadabi said Internet relationships are an imitation of the real thing and can’t last.
“I don’t think that people want to be proposed to or end up married via the Internet. I’ve heard of cases where this has happened, but they failed because it’s against human instinct.”
Abdulhafeed Al-Faqi, a 24-year-old from Ibb, agrees.
“Love over Facebook is illogical because it has no connection to reality,” he said. “Facebook is an imaginary world where it’s easy to lie to others. Love only lasts for a short time before it dies.”
Some people use Facebook under the false pretenses of finding love, Abdullah Al-Yousifi, 25, a Sana’a University student, said.
Al-Omaisi also told the story of a girl who fell in love with a man, but he lied to her and said he was in love with her and promised to marry her. He didn’t. After she ended the relationship, she used Facebook to create a page where she writes literature, a way to release her emotions in a creative manner.
“Some guys use it to chat with girls and promise they’ll marry them when they really have no intentions to do so,” Al-Yousifi said. "Only a few people are serious and fulfill their promises to get married to girls they meet over Facebook.People should take it seriously and keep their promises. If a young man already knows a girl, such as a work colleague, he can use Facebook to get to know her better.”