Back in the olden days, before social media ruled, when you had a falling out with a friend, quit or got fired from a job, or ended a relationship, that was it. Everyone went their separate ways. We moved on. Life went on.
Now, we are more connected than ever. That boy who pulled your hair in kindergarten is now your Facebook friend. You and the prom queen from high school follow each other on Instagram (And honestly you cannot believe how she has let herself go!). You follow President Obama and your seventh grade art teacher on Twitter. Everyone you’ve ever met, as well as many you’ve never met, are weirdly present in your daily life.
People meet, start relationships (and affairs), fight about politics, and air grievances online.
In our cyber driven lives, changing your relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single” on Facebook is the modern equivalent of the old Dear John letter, only worse because there are 4,000 “friends” reading that letter with you.
So the question is: How to handle a break up in the era of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.?
Many of my clients admit to cyberstalking their exes. In fact, I recently read that 48% of people continued to stay friends with their exes on Facebook, and 86% of those admitted to cyberstalking or “creeping.”
Against their better judgment, my clients feel compelled to see if their ex is thriving or crumbling in the wake of the break up. If there are unresolved or unexpressed feelings, cryptic status updates abound, making everyone else on the newsfeed aware of your situation (if they somehow missed the relationship status change newsflash) and uncomfortable. We write stories and scripts and make ourselves crazy.
Any of this sound familiar?
I’m sure there are many books in the works about the rules of dating and splitting as it relates to social media, but as someone in the trenches with clients dealing with this reality daily, I can boil it down to this:
In the past, when a relationship broke up, you could choose to end all contact and get on with healing. How can you move on while getting daily updates that will invariably cause you pain? If they are doing well and you are heartbroken still…PAIN. If you dumped them and their updates are depressing and filled with quotes from Kierkegaard…PAIN AND GUILT. Nothing good comes from staying un-naturally connected to an ex in cyberland. Take control and choose to protect yourself.
I encourage you to have the courage to opt out, un-friend, and un-follow. Think of it as creating space and emotional privacy to get on with your life.
I am sure many of you have experienced this, so please share your thoughts in the comment section. Let’s get this conversation rolling.
I hope you have an amazing week, present in your real world life and, as always, take care of you.
Love Love Love