Breaking up in the age of social networking

Girl 1: Omg, are you alright babe?
Girl 2: What?
Girl 1: Well… I just saw you and Josh broke up, he updated his relationship status on FB to single. You ok?
Girl 2: Oh… I kinda thought we were just taking a break… Hmm :/

Splitting up with a girlfriend or boyfriend has always been a thorny issue. It’s not much fun to go through it in the privacy of a kitchen or a coffee shop’s darkest corner, but social networks are bringing a whole new public aspect to break ups.

Jessamyn West of, along with many others, has covered the issue before me:

“Do I take my ex off my buddy list? Do I remove his blog from my RSS feed reader? Should I stop commenting on his Flickr pictures or block him from commenting on mine? How many passwords do I need to change? Do I deauthorize his computer from my iTunes store?”

Facebook BreakupWhen your blog, your MySpace page or Facebook profile is your personal soapbox and daily diary, how can you find the right balance between keeping your friends updated about your real life and avoiding airing your dirty bedsheets in public? What about when the new boyfriend comes into the spotlight? Should the ex be demoted from friend status to hide updates? That’s a whole new set of online ethics for which we’ve categorically lost the handbook.

Such drama over bits and bytes, really, but social networks have weaseled their way into having an impact on our very real flesh and blood lives. We’re all warned on a regular basis to watch what we blog, in case future employers find out about our drunken sexcapades, but what about future (and past) boyfriends and girlfriends?

[Disclaimer: I’m not splitting up with anyone, by the way, this is purely an observational post.]

[Update: I came across this post by Thomas Crampton dating from approx a month ago. I remember seeing the update on Loic’s Twitter feed, but it’s interesting to see what impact it had on Thomas in real life.]

One thought on “Breaking up in the age of social networking

  1. Roger

    Good article! ..and you’re right. my breakup is six months old and my X is in one of her profiles single, but still a member of a ‘love my boyfriend’ kind of group.. difficult to explain, Norwegian site 😛

    We’ve both chosen not to write much about the break-up – still people notices and asks questions. It can be a problem deciding where to draw the line when blogging on every other aspect of your life.

    You inspired me to write about this in one of my Norwegian blogs – will link back 🙂


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