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Breaking up 2.0: The impact of new (social) media

Saturday, January 15, 2011 · Category Everyday life · comments 1


When a love relationship seems to have come to an end, a number of rituals take place. Besides throwing away that passport photograph from your wallet, the toothbrush that ends up in the garbage bin and having an emotional period, the internet has recently become part of the process. Where breaking up is never easy, social media and modern communications seem to make it even harder.

New love and social media

How does it work in the first stage of a relationship? There seems to be no end to the fun! The young love is expressed shamelessly into a seemingly endless string. If we are not with our beloved one, than we get an ever tighter grip online, spontaneously and rapidly. If love is a verb, in recent years we have been served a wealth of new words like: browsing the pictures of our new lover, sharing and tagging romantic photos, Skype about what we will eat tonight and retweet our profound thoughts (copy to your own profile), while we certainly won’t stop to like every single, ambiguous status update on Facebook.

Shutting down the emergency exit

A head in the clouds forgets that social networks are public: whatever you send into the world, continues to reverberate forever. You forget that making contact goes much faster than breaking a contact, both in the real as in the virtual world. You forget that starting a relationship requires two people, yet breaking up can be anyone’s own decision.

Searching for the right “netiquette”

New social media call for new rules to end a relationship. All your Facebook friends and Twitter followers read your tweets, posts and follows expressions of love, likes and status updates in the realtionship. They are allowed to respond to each milestone in your relationship. One of the most heard annoyances of the past year involves people who share too much or inappropriate information with their contacts. It will take a while to find the right netiquette.

The strategy of deafening silence

Thanks to the many new media, you can break a relationship in many ways, or just the opposite by continuing incommunicado. Unanswered e-mails and a deafening silence on the other side after a round of sms: powerful weapons in times of frantic and stressed communications.

Standing up again

Until that one day when you finally stand up and scramble the dust off your shoulder. The day, the food tastes again and you start picking up the phone again. The day you know you have to move forward and it's time to archive your past relationship. And it is here where “Breaking up 2.0” comes into sight. The sweet notes, pictures, tickets, T-shirts and joint calls you can all hide or burn, but these posts on her blog, the status updates on her wall…… Defriend, Unfollow, block as user. In other words, social media has become a necessary step in the process.

In the past you had to be quit a stalker to keep following up on your ex her actions and moves. Social control and practical difficulties kept us from peaking through the window of her new house. Now you can do the stalking legally, uncontrolled and from the comfort of your armchair. The success of Facebook is the combination of exhibitionism and voyeurism and it is exactly these two factors that we are guilty of at the beginning and end of a relationship.

Iron discipline …

Even if you're just a limited masochist, it requires iron discipline not to keep checking her  Facebook profile, presence online on dating sites, status updates and your ex and mutual friends photo albums. Checking whether your ex is online, has new status updates, tweets and posts gradually moves towards deciphering blog posts, status updates and the comments of mutual friends. Suddenly you see she-who-hated-camping around a campfire and she-who-preferred-staying home turned into she-who-will-skip-no-party. In short: If you want to distance yourself from the broken relationship, in the process you are hopelessly lost. The thing is; you can do your very best to remain deaf and virtually blind; yet you do see that status update anyway. Everything passes, but nothing dies down.

USA versus Dutch Book prices

The book: The Breakup 2.0. Disconnecting over new media', Ilana Gershon, Cornell University Press. I thought to buy it, but I found myself confronted with liberal American pricing and our fixed Dutch Book prices. Besides I don’t really think it is worth reading as it is mainly a storytelling of interviews and worst case scenarios.

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If you haven’t had enough yet, here’s some famous and anonymous quotes:

  • Socrates: “The hottest love has the coldest end”
  • Oscar Wilde: “No man is rich enough to buy back his past”
  • Oscar Wilde: “The heart was made to be broken” 
  • Dennis Quaid: “When you break up, your whole identity is shattered. It’s like death”
  • Anonymous: “It takes a couple seconds to say Hello, but forever to say Goodbye”
  • Grant Gudmundson: “Love is unconditional, relationships are not”
  • Anonymous: “Trying to forget someone you love is like trying to remember someone you never knew”


1. by Shymee about 6 years

That's way the betsest answer so far!


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