Messy Break-Up on Social Media and Its Impact - Seeker's Thoughts

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Messy Break-Up on Social Media and Its Impact

Breaking up is hard, as life becomes increasingly public in the era of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram, relationships are changing too—making “it’s Complicated” more than just a status update.

Imagine flipping through your Facebook news feeds first thing in the morning and spotting a notification that your ex is now in a relationship.

Social media is single-handedly breaking up couples everywhere. It’s also making breakups more painful; more drawn out and more public.

According to growing evidence, people who spend more time on social networking sites, shown more conflict in their relationships and are more likely to break up, often citing Facebook or Twitter as part of the problem.

 How Scenarios like these are real and not uncommon?

According to a new University of Colorado Boulder study exploring how breaking up is even harder to do in the digital age.

Anthony Pinter, lead author of the study said- “Before social media, break-ups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person. It can make it almost impossible to move on if you are constantly being bombarded with reminders in different places online”.

How it has been proven?

The research team recruited participants who had experienced an upsetting encounter online involving a break-up within the past 18 months and interviewed them for over an hour.

Among 19 who underwent in-depth interviews, a disturbing trend emerged. Even when people took every measure they saw possible to remove their exes form their online lives, social media returned them – often multiple times a day.

A lot of people make the assumption that they can just unfriend their ex or unfollow them and they are not going to have to deal with this anymore.

Facebook’s news Feeds

News feed, the primary interface that opens when one launches Facebook, was a major source and reason for distress, delivering news of ex-lovers announcing they were in a new relationship. In one case participants noticed his roommate had already: liked” his ex’s post. He was the last of his friends to know.

Facebook’s memories

Memories, which revive posts from years’ past, was equally heart-rending, with one participant recalling how a sweet years-old message from his ex-wife popped up out of nowhere delivering an emotional wallop.

Many shared stories of encountering exes via their comments in shared spaces, such as groups or mutual friends’ pictures.

According to Pinter – “in real life, you get to decide who gets the cat and who gets the couch, but online it’s a lot harder to determine who gets his picture or who gets this group.

In 2015, Facebook launched the take A break features which detects when a user switches from “in a relationship” to “single “and asks if they want the platform to hide that person’s activities but people like Pinter, who don’t use the relationship status tool, never get such an offer.

“Facebook doesn’t know we broke up because Facebook never knew we were in a relationship.

And even when they blocked their exes entirely some reported that the ex’s friends and family would still show up on Facebook as suggestions under people you may know.

The research stems from a larger National Science Foundation grant award called Humanizing Algorithm, aimed at identifying and offering solutions for “algorithmic insensitivity.”

How to avoid a Messy Break-Up?

Messy break-ups are the worst and sometimes feel unavoidable, if you one involve social media in your break-up, you’re more likely to avoid at least a messy break up in public. As for keeping social media out of break-up’s aftermath, how the break up should be handled digitally when having that final conservation with your partner: “if you let each other know what would be least hurtful for you, you’ve already taken the first step to avoid a potentially messy break-up.”

Stop compare relationships to others

Just because a couple posts a picture on the beach at sunset doesn’t mean they have a perfect relationship?

Anyone can post a cute picture with their significant other on social media. It doesn’t mean their relationship is better than yours.

Having the right support

People’s support systems vary from person to person. Some people need a shoulder to cry on after a break-up, while others need a private place to lick their wounds. If you or someone you know doesn’t have access to or doesn’t respond well to, personal contact, directing people towards “digital offers such as online counseling or counseling by email, which many major charitable organizations provide.”

Either way, no one should suffer alone, so at the very least it’s worth pinging a DM or text to a friend to let them know you’re there for them. We have the technology, after all.


"Algorithms are really good at seeing patterns in clicks, likes and when things are posted, but there is a whole lot of nuance in how we interact with people socially that they haven't been designed to pick up,

The authors suggest that such encounters could be minimized if platform designers paid more attention to the "social periphery" -- all those people, groups, photos, and events that spring up around a connection between two users.

For those wanting to rid their online lives from reminders of love lost, they recommend unfriending, untagging, using Take a Break and blocking while understanding they may not be fool proof.

Take a break from social media for a while until you are in a better place."

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