Break-Ups and Facebook: Getting Over Them Has Never Been Harder
Valentine’s Day is a day where many rejoice with their significant others the happiness and joy that has been brought with the said relationship, however it may be defined. For those who do not have that special someone in their lives, Valentine’s Day takes on a whole new meaning. Some just treat it like any other uneventful day, while others choose to use the occasion to celebrate their solitude, and finally there are those who view Valentine’s Day as a painful reminder of why they are alone. For the later part of the singles group, it is especially difficult to be dealing with these emotions in today’s environment. In this era of social media and networking, relationships, and more importantly their ends, have taken a whole new form.
With the social hegemony Facebook dominating the world of social networking as we know it currently, a new phrase has entered our social norm; the concept of a relationship being “Facebook official.” Facebook has revolutionized the way we communicate and keep in touch with friends and relatives, as well as acting as a device to meet new people. Among the many features Facebook offers to describe you, there is the notorious relationship status option. Here you can declare to your friends and the world (depending on your privacy settings) where you stand as a social being. Are you single or in a relationship? Is that relationship straight forward or is it complicated? Perhaps you’re engaged, married, divorced or widowed. You can even choose to withhold this information, adding to the mystery that is your personal profile. For many couples, when they enter a relationship, the act of changing their relationship status is a big deal. It seems to add validity to the relationship, and is sometimes seen as a touching sign of affection. It tells the Facebook world you are taken, and you can even share who it is that has taken you (If they agree that you’re in a relationship of course). It is from this that the phrase “Facebook official” was given life, and has evolved into a measure of a relationship. However, statistically speaking, not all good things last, people come and go, and relationships end. What happens then? Facebook and social networking has forever changed the break-up and how we as individuals handle it.
For many of us, social media and networking devices are of vital importance in our day to day lives; almost like a drug we are addicted too. We are almost constantly connected to the thoughts and movements of family, friends, and casual acquaintances. It is through the access to this wealth of information we find the problem when relationships end. Sometimes it provides the final blow to a relationship through a check-in at a location with someone your significant other doesn’t want you around, other times it removes all doubt about a relationship when you wake up to find you partner has changed their relationship status. Social networking can make it extremely difficult to get over someone as we battle with the dilemma of keeping them or removing them from our friend’s list. Don’t quite understand? I’ve got just the thing to clear it up. Hello, my name is Kyle, and I’m a social networking addict. This is my story.
I’ve only loved one woman in my life so far. My high school sweetheart you would say. She held my heart from 16 through to 19, but I felt the effects of her for a while afterwards. Now just to clarify, I am young, and I have plenty of life ahead. I am no longer worried about finding love again. It’ll happen I’m sure. Back to this woman, we started this relationship during the early years of social networking on the now often forgotten predecessor of Facebook, MySpace. MySpace gave you the option of ranking your friends, and she and I had each other as our number one friend. This was our way of declaring that we were in a relationship. After two years, we started to grow apart, and well, we decided we needed to take “a break.” Now when this happened, nothing really changed much, after a few months we were spending as much time together as we had been before, doing the things we always seemed to do. Until one morning, I woke up and checked MySpace like the addict I am, checked her page, looked at her top friends list, and I was absent. In my place was another guy at the top of the list. This is how I found out I had been replaced; this woman I loved had found someone new. She immediately confirmed my worse fear when I shot her a text message, and just like that I suffered my first real heart break. Now it should be said that her and I still maintain some contact, and she is a great woman who is happily engaged to a great man. But in the moment and for some time afterwards though there was pain caused by this, and MySpace was there to strike the pivotal blow.
Hopefully now you understand better how social networking sites can provide the end to relationship, but as I have learned, they also make it difficult to get over and move on. Now some people have the ability to just forget and get on their way. I do not, and I know I am not alone. With the integration of Facebook into society, the act of removing someone from your friends list can be extremely volatile; especially if the person finds out. This is particularly true at the conclusion of a relationship when the two parties agree to remain friends. Now I’m not here saying this can’t be done; it very well can be. However, sometimes it shouldn’t be done. This is a lesson you’ll learn, usually the hard way. Most of the time you need some separation and time to let wounds heal before you and your ex can resume the friendship, and accept now the odds are against that friendship reaching a level you had before the relationship. I am proud to say that I am still friends, to some degree, with the greater majority of my exes, but it hasn’t been easy at all, and a time or two I thought the pain would kill me, or at least cause me to lose my mind.
This is where Facebook and other social networking sites really have an influence. Through Facebook, I was updated daily of my ex’s movements and thoughts, and I often knew where they were and who they were with. Every little thought they shared I saw. Then there is always the dreaded next relationship- that one can hurt a lot depending on how long after the conclusion of your relationship with them was. It almost seems to become a race sometimes: who can enter a relationship with someone quicker, because nothing shows your ex more that you’re over them than a new relationship, right? I’ve never won this “race” in my life.
Of course I could have always deleted them, and then I would never have to deal with knowing all of that about them. I mean there are ways to discover this information when you aren’t friends with them on Facebook, but it’s more difficult. I know plenty of people who do that with no problems and suggested I do the same. But that’s not me, not who I am. I know there are a lot of people out there like me, and we have found ways to justify keeping our ex’s on our friends list. A classic one is telling yourself you want to know where they are so you don’t accidentally run into them, or perhaps you’re a hopeless romantic and don’t want to miss a status post that could show you they still want to be with you. Whatever the reason, it is ultimately damaging. Truth is, when we are constantly exposed to our old flames, the damage from the wounds can’t heal properly in the time frame that it would be expected to heal in. Every time they check-in, post, or even simply like one of your statuses, it pulls on those heart strings and you can feel that pain deep in your chest. Social networking sites have elongated the healing process with a combination of exposure and the socially frowned upon act of deleting individuals off your site. It’s really an unavoidable fact.
Now, there is hope for us heartbroken fools out there. In time, you ultimately will be fine and be able to move on, even with the exposure to your ex on the site. If that day seems too far away, but can’t stand the idea of the drama deleting your ex could cause, Facebook has provided us with a new option. You can make it so that your ex doesn’t pop up on your news feed, greatly reducing your exposure to them. Sure it still runs the risk of them interacting with you, but it’s better than nothing and both parties can live their respected lives as you both work through the inevitable pains that a break-up causes.
We as a society cannot deny this revolution of sorts that is social media and networking; and really it is a beautiful thing when you sit back and take it all in. As this world moves into the future, social expectations and norms will inevitably change. Relationships are no different. Whatever your means of cooping and moving on from an ended relationship, I have a few words for you. In the end, you’re going to be okay. No matter how dark it seems now, a light will always find its way in, just keep your eyes open, head up, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
DJ Little k is a student DJ at kssu.com, Sacramento State’s Student Run Radio.