Breaking up in The Digital Age
Break ups are never easy. Although, a part of me thinks they were probably a little less complicated before cell phones and social media existed. No temptations of seeing what they’re up to on snapchat, no checking their instagram to see what and who they posted with last, no drunk texts, no late night phone calls, no further communication once a relationship had ended; assuming you didn’t live in the same area anymore. I guess if there’s a will, there’s a way. Perhaps, regardless of technology, if an ex lover was still madly in love with you or devastated over the break up, they could mail you love/hate letters that expressed their hurt and frustration and love. However, I feel like it would’ve been a little less intrusive, and a little easier to field than your phone buzzing next to you like a pestering bee is. Moving on, or even just giving yourself a break from a person is almost impossible to do without deliberate avoidance, and maybe even blocking that person, in today’s world. I can’t help but think that if cellphones and social media didn’t exist, people wouldn’t end up staying in a place of heartache for as long; or worse, wouldn’t stay with a person they really shouldn’t stay with just because they can’t escape them in digital form.
Once you’ve made the decision to no longer have someone in your life, or vice versa, it shouldn’t be hard to respect and honor that decision. However, in today’s day in age, the difference between existing in someone’s life and existing on their timeline is slim. Physical presence and digital presence blends together, gets confused, and just because you have one, doesn’t mean you have the other. I’m sure we’ve all done this; you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend and because you are no longer talking, you unfollow them on social media. Maybe you even block them because they keep liking your photos or replying to your Instagram stories. Or maybe, you can’t help but stalk their profiles every other day to see what they’re doing and that’s why you block them. I can’t tell you how many times I unfollowed my ex boyfriend on Instagram, only to re-follow him a month later if we had started communicating by texting or calling each other again. Sometimes your digital life mirrors your physical life; however, other times it doesn’t and that’s where it can get mentally confusing and exhausting.
Breaking up is hard because most of the time, you’re trying to take your mind off of that person so you can move on. But how are people supposed to move on in the digital world if they still see their photos on instagram? If they still watch what the other person is doing on snapchat? I mean hell, even if you don’t follow your ex, you better believe one of your friends does and they’re going to either tell you what they saw on social media or show you directly. How does one leave someone in the past if their digital presence is still existing in their present?
The solution: shut down all social media. Just kidding, other than a social media/advanced technology ban, there’s really only one way to heal, move on, and break up in the digital world. Unfollow your ex and their friends on social media to eliminate seeing them while you’re casually scrolling. Delete their phone number to avoid any impulsive text or calls. Tell your friends to unfollow them or if they do follow your ex, tell them not to share any information about them with you and make sure they respect that. The only way to break up in the digital world is to be conscious of how your physical and digital worlds align. And if they don’t, I suggest making an effort to get them aligned.