Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (on the Web 2.0)


From the archives and for new friends:

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We have all been through a breakup and felt the inevitable pangs of pain, surges of tears and very real mourning period following the end of a relationship.  In today’s world, where social networking and social media can be a significant part of many of our lives, old fashioned heartbreak can be compounded by the “Internet breakup”.

Breaking up with someone with whom you shared your likes and dislikes, sent xoxo’s and matched compatibility quiz results with on sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and of course the uber-popular Youtube, along with the many other social networks brings forth an entirely new set of issues.  For instance, how long does one wait to remove from one’s page the comments, photos, and “gifts” (sent while in the often delusional. blissful cloud of love) that stare back and now haunt you? This person was your No. 1 spot in your top friends for heavens sake! What is one to do?

Once these are removed and the STATUS in the profile changes from any of the oh-so-charming descriptions ranging from “it’s complicated” or “in committed relationship” to “single”, what is the proper etiquette for well wishers and others who will invariably ask how you are coping, what happened and other questions that may be sincere but can burn through the screen like molten lava?  What to do with the bevy of comments left to make sure you “keep your chin up”, that they are “thinking of you” and whatever other trite phrase  delivered in glitter loitering in cyberspace like floating bullets in a Matrix-like freeze frame. Makes one want to pownce directly into a gaping void.

As in the traditional break up there is always the division of “friends”.  The Internet makes that division a blatantly public and often childish process.  Do they “De-friend you?”  Do you “De-friend” them?  Who does what and how long until someone takes action?  There is always that one first friend that is brave enough to make the friend switch. This person simply enjoys the new friendship more than the original friendship, yet inevitably puts themselves into the center of what may turn into a battle of loyalties, criticism and of course the unbearable insult of being De-friended (they also risk negative posts and g-d knows what from the slighted party).  These friends that once felt Linkdin may experience the pain of being blocked, ignored or even… dare I say… spammed.

So as you sit there and ponder the thought “OMG” this could happen to me and your heart goes all a twitter, feeling like drinking a tumblr of whatever is readily available in the house, I ask you, what are the new rules governing this era of Internet everything? How should this go down and how can you emerge relatively unscathed from all the added remnants now gathering in the cloud? How does one go from being the couple of Web 2.0 to …Web no.0?”

I hereby offer a few initial suggestions and I am sure I will come up with many more, but I need to know what you, the tech-lover, thinks.  Perhaps together we can come up with some basic framework for keeping our net presence intact as we navigate the treacherous on-line break up?

Rules of Disengagement for Internet-related break ups

1. Do not post a breakup blog explaining the gory details.  Such things should be private, even in today’s voyeuristic world.

2. Removal of ex should be done gradually. i.e. they did not disappear from the face of the earth, just perhaps from your life or more visibly, your vlog.  This should be adhered to in order to avoid the inevitable onslaught of queries about your separation. Do it for the other person, if not for yourself.

3. Do not post new pictures of yourself with an ex, a new whatever or overtly salacious images in an attempt to inflict additional pain on your ex (no mater how much you think you hate them).4. It is not recommended posting hourly, self-involved mood updates that will not only indulge the voyeurism of others, but cheapen the anguish you both feel. In a nutshell, don’t twit a twitter.

5. While sending angry emails/IM’s in the wake of your break up, do not digg yourself a hole you cannot climb out of.  This means that words on a screen are forever. Permanent. Nothing is ever truly erased from the web.  So pick your jabs wisely and don’t stumbleupon your own immature cruelty.

6. Do not badmouth your ex. You are an adult..

7. Avoid “tracking” your ex’s web activity. This can only lead to obsession and worse, web stalking.

8. Do not refer in any way to your suddenly, even remarkable renewed sex drive, virility, or promiscuity. This is so far beneath you as to be found somewhere deep in the Earth’s mantle.

9. Take a break from social media. We could all use one.

10. Eat, drink, be merry and do not let the bad experience disillusion you as to the viability of another Web-based relationship – we all benefit from social media, both platonic-socially, and if we are careful and a bit lucky, we may fall for another Tech-god  again, with markedly better results.

Written in collaboration with Michelle Oshen

Copyright ©2008 Veronica Romm

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26 thoughts on “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (on the Web 2.0)

  1. Well its supposed to work on both parts. Both people need to follow the rules otherwise it not a good look. Maintain integrity and move on. thanks for your comment.

  2. I personally try to keep from posting identifiable information and even most private moments I keep to myself when blogging, vaguely hinting at my personal life. I have debated with myself on writing more, and these rules are a good guideline should I decide to proceed, thanks!

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  4. I’ve never put much stock in Internet relationships of any kind and consider myself lucky to have any friends at all. That said, there are a few Internet friends I will always cherish.

    The problems with Internet breakups seem to me to be very much like the problems of off line relationships– only digital and at the speed of light.

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  8. Veronica-so well written and very tongue in cheek! How did you not stop laughing while you wrote this? I have to agree with Jackie–modern life is tough. I am glad I am married.

    After reading your post, I felt like I was watching a foreign film and did not need to understand the subtitles. That is scary especially for someone who only started their blog a year ago. Perhaps, I need to get a life…

  9. Kevin C.

    This Veronica (my friend) has a lot of great things she writes about and once again I have found another reason to be happy to know her! BTW-If our ‘friendship’ ever ends now I know how that ending will take place! LOL! You ROCK Veronica!
    Your on-line friend Kevin =-)

  10. “I ask you, what are the new rules governing this era of internet everything?”

    Same as the old rules. Self-preservation is paramount. Limiting one’s exposure to future harm is key.

    Publishing affections for any and everyone to see will only compound the eventual heartache. Relationships should be private and personal (i.e., one on one physical is preferable). The Net should only be a swap-meet or mate attraction device. Once it advances beyond that stage, it should be off-line.

  11. Great blog. I’ve said many times that I’m very relieved most of my dating days were before the frequent use of blogs, myspace, etc. Now only my marriage gets chronicled!

  12. melrodicq

    My goodness.. I had never thought about this before. What a lot of angst teenagers must go through with the added issues of social networking! Eww, in my day it was just endlessly walking past their house and ringing their home number then putting the phone down….

  13. dontdatethatdude

    This is a great post and it really made me wonder, plus it begs the question should we really be posting this stuff to begin with? I mean unless you are married or in a “mutually agreed upon arrangement” is it really necessary? I am also from a different generation and when I write names are withheld as I believe those matter should be private. Should I ever decide to make them public I will refer to these rules. Thank you!

  14. Atherton Bartelby

    Excellent. Witty…and oh so true. Now where was this piece during my last three…four…five break-ups? *wink*

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