Surviving a break-up in the wacky world of Facebook
By Jason Webber
Like Alvy Singer and Annie Hall long before us, our great love died at a restaurant. Instead of alfalfa sprouts and mashed yeast, we opted for mediocre burritos at a chain Mexican eatery for our last meal as a couple. We sat down, I drew a deep breath and proceeded to tell Marsha (not her real name) that after 17 months, it just wasn’t working.
Marsha took it well and initially there wasn’t any visible break-up drama. After all, we still loved each other — we were just breaking up because of good, old-fashioned, Hollywood-trendy “irreconcilable differences.” Everything was fine.
That is, until she logged onto Facebook and changed her “Relationship Status” from “In A Relationship” to “Single.”
With a few keystrokes and a mouse click, our break-up suddenly became a lot more complicated, painful and weird. Within minutes, her friends responded to the change, with messages ranging from the snide to the sympathetic, like this nugget from her friend Matt: “This happens all the time I have 2 say “PEOPLE STOP BREAKIN UP 2 DATE ME” I am married now I do wish you luck tho but its just not gonna work between us” to this one from her friend Tim: “Sorry bout that … guess we are in the same s###y boat sis :(“ But what really caught my eye was this zinger from her friend Ben, her BFF’s boyfriend: “Nice what happened if u do not mind me asking?”
“Nice?!” Ben had described our break-up as “nice,” like he was glad we had split up. I felt my heart rate increase as I pondered what this meant, then I noticed that under the wall post announcing Marsha’s status change, two people had clicked the famous “Like” button. I could not get over the fact that people all over the continent were actually celebrating the fact that Marsha and I were kaput. I clicked on the button and discovered that one of the happy Facebook friends was her cousin Brad and the other one was some emo kid named Pete, who obviously saw Marsha’s newfound singledom as his golden opportunity to finally ask her out.
This was my first real break-up since I joined the Facebook revolution, and it was clear the entire relationship spectrum had been altered thanks to whiz kid Mark Zuckerberg’s grand invention. The break-ups I endured through high school and college now seemed quaint and certainly less awkward. In those halcyon days of land lines and wristwatches, word-of-mouth took care of spreading the word about the death of a relationship. When my high school sweetheart dumped me on a rainy Monday morning in 1994, it didn’t become common knowledge around the school until at least Friday in sixth period. Now? Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, everyone knows six seconds after the moment the girl gives the boy back his class ring.
This brave new world of social networking is here to stay — no sense in getting nostalgic about the good old days where people actually spoke to one another in person, talked on the phone and used an odd service called the U.S. Postal System to send these quaint objects called letters, which were long, drawn-out thoughts of more than 140 characters.
I’m no hypocrite — I love scanning Facebook updates, tweeting my lasting banalities and stalking the profiles of the girls I was too shy to ask out back in college. But breaking up on Facebook presents its own set of unique challenges. After I told some of my friends about this experience, they confessed they had been through a similar cyber hell, which brings us to the Three Golden Rules for Facebook breakups:
1. Immediately delete the wall post announcing that you’re once again single
I’m not saying you should keep your Relationship Status totally private, I’m just saying kill the wall post noting you went from being “In A Relationship” to “Single.” People who visit your page may notice your status change and ask you about it by posting on your wall. Simply delete their posting and send them a private message explaining what happened.
2. Remove the pic of you and your ex
I guarantee you that your ex is going to be stalking your page in the wake of your break-up. He or she will be trawling your Wall looking for clues and indicators that ultimately led to their heart being broken. So one thing you need to do for your own sanity is remove the pictures of the two of you together. This will clear both of your heads and help avoid the “Oh, look how happy we were” weeping and gnashing of teeth that usually accompanies the viewing of such photographs. I know. I’ve done it.
3. Don’t be afraid to unfriend and block your ex
Try as we might, we can’t all stay friends with our ex-lovers. Even if you tearfully pledged to stay friends 60 seconds after breaking up, everyone knows that sometimes it’s just not an option. Too much pain, regret, bitterness and jealousy creates emotional Nitroglycerin, so if you think you or your recently departed paramour are going to explode, just unfriend them and cut your losses. It sucks, it hurts, but that’s breaking up. Even a genius like Zuckerberg can’t solve every social problem.
Reach DCP freelance writer Jason Webber at firstname.lastname@example.org.