Social Media And The Separation

The second part of my social media series has to do with the breakup process.  What is the appropriate way to handle a divorce on the social scene?

I’ve seen countless status updates to say that individuals have gone from being some form of “coupled” to “single”.  Sometimes those updates are accompanied by a personal note to offer more details about the situation or the feelings around the event.  I suppose I understand the need for a public announcement.  Sometimes it’s easier to say it once on Facebook than having to reiterate the same scenario countless times in person, on the phone or through individual emails.

What about the virtual connection to an ex?  Should you unfriend?  Unfollow?  Unsubscribe?  Block?  Stalk?  Keep an interactive public friendship?  Or untag yourself in the photos?  Do you need to alter your security settings?

Is it customary to divulge details via status updates?  Several years ago, I saw a MySpace status that said “There’s no longer a controlling dickhead attached to my house!”  That caused me to pause and think.  Is that kind of update appropriate?  Is it necessary to publicly degrade the ex in such a manner?  Children were present on the author’s Friend List (including her own offspring).  Was the remark meant to be seen by the ex?  How did the author intend to portray herself by making such a comment?  Did her readers view her as fearless and independent?  Or petty and bitter?

Have you heard any of the stories about the role social media has played in the divorce process?  By now we’ve probably all heard that Facebook is a cited cause of many divorces.  But did you know about the blogging father who was ordered to take down his anonymous blog or risk losing custody of his children?  Did you see the newscast about the man who was told to publicly apologize or face jail time for the FB comments he made about his ex?  What do you think of that?

Personally, I don’t publish my relationship status on Facebook, so there was nothing for me update last November.  Since my breakup with Ex-BF, I did unsubscribe from his profile updates (funny, I don’t mind having my ex-husband in my feed).  I realize during this time period, it’s natural for me to be under scrutiny.  Thus, I’ve gone largely silent on FB.  I interact with my real friends in real life or through private messages (I’m sure my non-real friends haven’t noticed the lack of updates on my wall).  At times, I’ve been extremely upset by things I’ve heard were said about me, either on the network or in person.  The idea of formal punishment for such an offense is a nice fantasy.  However, I think we all should have the right to speak our minds (but wouldn’t it be nice if everyone carried the same Standards Of Respectful Behavior?).

I realize I’ve published a considerable amount of information here on the blog.  This forum feels quite different for me.  For one thing, my personal situation is appropriate to share in this arena- my broken heart isn’t competing for Top News status against pictures of my “friends'” babies.  For another, most people I know don’t come here to read what I’ve written.   Nor do they subscribe.  I started the blog because people I know were sick of hearing me talk about divorce.  So I feel pretty safe here.  And it’s not like I’m namecalling or sharing extreme details.

So… what do you think?  How did/would/will you handle your separation on the social networks?  How did your ex handle it?  How did/do you feel about it?  Any lessons you’ve learned?  Any strategies to share?  Am I asking too many questions?


3 comments on “Social Media And The Separation

  1. Rachl says:

    I watched my (now) husband deal with these questions with his ex-wife. They started out professing an amicable divorce, but it soon evolved into amicable-as-long-as-he-continue-to-do-as-he-was-told, as he had had to do while married. Each step he took away from her and toward independence elicited streams of vitriol. She would stalk him on FB and lash out at what she saw there. We felt our relationship was being monitored by Big Sister. When he unfriended, it was ugly and she used it as yet another way to turn his girls against him. I had a situation where I had to unfriend and block everyone I was friends with who was connected to his daughter because of her stalking me and some weird results of that. I’m a very private person and was pretty freaked out at the level of stalking that can happen online now.

    I guess after watching all of it, I’d say that if a marriage/relationship is truly amicable after the split, FB or other social media can be a good way to share info. It sharing info is a bad thing and leads to stalking, repercussions, and all around weirdness when a new relationship comes along, then as much distance as possible is needed. It all depends on the situation, the people in the situation and how each of them use the social media in question.

    Thanks for posting these thoughts and questions. I think this is something that is changing relationships – both during and “after”.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. I never know whether I should be fascinated or horrified by the way people use social media.

      Separations are difficult and there’s a natural tendency to hold on in some way- any way. Social networks are an easy way to obtain that connection. Unfortunately a lot of the information out there is just plain painful to see and it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of angry stalking. At a time when we’re all expected to be so “connected”, it can be hard to obtain a healthy distance with respected boundaries.

  2. […] For my third post in the Social Media Series, I’m going to look toward the future use of these tools with regards to personal/family relationships.  If you missed parts one and two (about the relationship and the separation), you can read them here and here. […]

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