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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How To Deal With Break-Ups Gracefully In the Digital Age

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 10:45 AM


Your previous advice regarding approaching ladies the right way online landed me a really fun date that turned into about 15 more, but now that we've had an argument or two I'm thinking maybe I should start over. How can I tell when it's time to break up when you're not even really "dating?"

~Easy Come Easy Go

First of all, I'm glad my column could help you get laid. That is truly the best Thanksgiving gift an advice columnist could ask for, barring, of course, some whiskey aftershave (What? We're not ALL participating in Movember), or a mermaid romance novel.

As to how you can tell when it's time to break up with someone, that answer is simple: When you want to. I know the term "dating" is nebulous. But quitting on a person after 15 date-like whatevers certainly constitute some kind of formal break-up. And when I say formal, I mean in person. I would, however, suggest you do it sooner than later, since Big Depressing Holidays are fast approaching, and you want to give her a leg up on all the eggnog she'll need to purchase to get over being dumped.

That said, break-ups in the digital age are a lot more perilous than they were back when we could simply chisel emo rock formations in our caves and take our anger out on unsuspecting mastodons. Bitches had it coming! Since we now spend 22.5 percent of our time on social networks and blogs, break-ups can be especially fraught. Here are some rules for disengagement to help you navigate the post-relationship waters.

The consensus of modern day ladies and gents is one that favors blocking and/or hiding your ex from all applicable social media feeds. This serves two purposes: One, to prevent you from stalking your ex's every picture and status update, speculating that he or she is boning every person who comments, or as one friend put it, "WALLowing." Two, as a courtesy to your exes, mutual friends, and sometimes even their family, from seeing how happy you are and how much you've moved on from dating that last loser. While most agreed that this wouldn't stop them from visiting an ex's Facebook profile completely, hiding someone does allow you to have more control over how much you and others can view. 

To avoid the public humiliation factor, another friend suggested hiding your Facebook relationship status. "So when you go from 'in a relationship' to 'single' you don't get 10 million pity comments from concerned 'friends.'" If you do decide to make the plunge publicly, one friend recommended ending the relationship together. "It was a mutual decision. We sat together at our computers, held hands, and clicked the 'End Relationship' button at the same time on our Facebook profiles. Then we hugged and cried."

For more on post-break-up Facebooking, read this handy primer I put together a few months back. Includes a not-yet-invented Ben and Jerry's flavor: Boston Cream Cry.

Twitter is harder to wrangle since the majority of feeds are public. You can hide an ex if you use Brizzly, but that shizzly crashes so often, I don't really recommend it just for that "service." It's best to just unfollow and be done with it. You'll also want to think ESPECIALLY hard before you start firing off emo Smiths lyrics, and not simply because your tweets are being tracked by the Library of Congress. Twitter is forever, y'all. Like roaches and Pixies reunion tours. So don't go nutso posting details about your relationships for the world to see.

There used to be a plugin called Ex-Blocker that would filter out all references to your ex from Google searches, Facebook, Twitter, etc., but sadly, it looks like the service is no longer. Whenever I clicked on the site, I was led to a blank screen with small, esoteric text in the corner that merely said *chirp*, making me wonder if I had somehow been blocked by the blocking software.

If you're connected to your ex through Foursquare, CNN offers this advice, "[Y]ou can totally avoid your former SO (current SOB) with, well, Avoidr. This web app allows you to choose which Foursquare friends you want to forsake, and then flags their check-ins so you can sidestep an encounter."

What about y'all? How tips would you offer someone going through a break-up online? 

Social-media mistress Anna Pulley likes to give advice about how to play well with others on the internets. If you have a question about etiquette involving technology, shoot her a question at 

Follow us on Twitter: @annapulley and @ExhibitionistSF or Facebook

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