From the archives and for new friends:
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