Breaking Up is (Not So) Hard to Do

It’s Not You, It’s… You.
By John Lavallo

“C’mon, really — a Post-It note?!?”

For those of you trapped on a cable TV-less island back in 2003, what I’m referring to is the “Sex & the City” episode where Jack Berger dumps poor Carrie Bradshaw via a little yellow sticky paper. Now, I’ve heard of goodbye letters. Hell, I once heard about a guy who dumped a girl during sex. But does it get any less personal than using stationery manufactured by 3M for your break-up note?

Well, in Facebook-relationship-status parlance, it’s complicated.

Welcome to the social media generation, where “Crazy in Love” becomes “Hit The Road, Jack” in the blink of a (eye)phone. [Note: Isn’t it amazing that barely 100 words into this piece, we’ve already referenced a dumping Jack and a dumped Jack? And you thought nearly a billion Facebook members was an impressive feat?].

You see, just when you relegated status updates to telling the world how that latte you just consumed spared you from the fire of eternal damnation (‘OMG, a venti skinny vanilla just saved my life!’), with the advent of social media, your relationship status is now a neon-flashing billboard for the world to see — or at least that part of the world in your circle of friends online. People all over the globe are literally breaking up with a significant other simply by changing their Facebook status from “in a relationship” to “single,” with no further explanation necessary to the poor ex who now suffers the dual humiliation of getting dumped both electronically and publicly.

Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? I mean, a break-up is a break-up; you deal with it. Well, picture this: Cindy is floating along through her day, content in the fact that Tommy’s heart, mind and Facebook picture albums belong to her and her alone. Cindy logs into Facebook just so she can see, for the hundredth time, that picture of the two of them giggling and cooing in an oversized furry armchair. She casually glances at Tommy’s profile information, as she always gets a kick out of seeing that he’s “in a relationship” with her, and [insert sound of Mack truck crashing into the side of her head] – what the what? – Tommy is “single”?!? Cindy is perplexed. “How, how can this be?,” she wonders, as the adrenaline marches through her chest like an over-caffeinated explorer. “Aha, someone hacked his account!” She picks up the phone to let him know, but it goes to voice mail. She texts, but no reply.

Back to Facebook she goes, to post a message to her beloved’s Wall that some insensitive maniac confiscated his password and is spreading lies, lies, lies. A few minutes later, as Cindy checks back, she sees a whole bunch of comments posted such as “Way to go, Tom!,” “I never liked her,” “Finally, man!,” and worst of all, from Tommy himself: “Yeah, tough call but it’s all good”. Well, it’s great that Tommy seemed to deliberate so long and hard about his big decision but — hey, Lebron– how about giving Cleveland Cindy a little warning before leaving or, heaven forbid, actually doing the deed personally before taking your talents to Facebook? To be fair, one has to admire the brusque, in-your-face, social media gen attitude of “I’m doing what I want and I’m letting you know in real time.” And although one simple click makes you an instant published author of heartbreak, it begs the question: Is it really easier to break up digitally?

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