Breakup a la Facebook

Some of you must be aware that I recently changed my status on Facebook from “In a Relationship” to “Single”.  It may be a trite way to inform my friends of the change, but it beats the alternatives.  It’s hard enough to go through a breakup without having to tell every single person who know you as a ‘good couple’ just why this happened and how.  Especially when you are the breakee rather than the breaker, It’s hard enough to accept the loss of your relationship, even without friends you trust discussing and questioning the decision that wasn’t even your decision.  And who wants to stand around lamenting the past?

Of course, some people would take the usefulness of this feature to the extreme.  Just like middle school, it eliminates the need to directly tell someone else your intentions.  In middle school, you could always have a friend do the actual ‘breaking’ for you.  Or, my personal favorite, there’s the phone breakup in which you curse the breakee for being a ‘dog’ and other various things just to show how serious you are about breaking all ties.  Some people might even use Facebook to avoid those delicate conversations about moving from casual dating to a full-fledged relationship.  Someday, somewhere, people might actually be proposing marriage on Facebook.  Creepy.

Still, it was pretty surprising to see the results.  People I hadn’t spoken to in months called or messaged to offer support and condolences.  Three of Mike’s friends he hadn’t told about the breakup yet only found out about it through my status change (his profile still was listed as ‘in a relationship’ at that point cause he’s a bum who doesn’t update his status).  And it was an easy way to shout out to my friends, “I need immediate and serious distraction from my own thoughts,” without having to say much of anything.  But the best part of it all is that I can still laugh at the gossipy quality to this useful little tool.  It’s still a little prideful to proclaim my new single status so quickly, and a little cheesy to feel sad about the poor broken heart pieces I showed to the world through online emoticons.  But if I can still laugh, I must be doing pretty good.

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As of now, I’m loved.

I happened to be browsing the ‘Current Events’ section of the interweb and came upon another article on Facebook.  Despite the fact that this social site has basically taken over my life due to Scrabulous, I sometimes wonder at what other people are doing with/on it.  I mean, if you don’t have about half your work day to squander playing online, when do you find the time for this stuff?  Of course, many users are young college students with plenty of time to squander.  Still, I was quite surprised at the article, which focuses on relationships and Facebook as the real way to know you’re in one.  Interesting.

I understand the appeal of Facebook as a means to keep in touch with people.  It’s great for keeping up ties if you’re living far from your friends, or extended family.  It offers a variety of services (such as ‘events’ or ‘notes’ or ‘mini-feed’) that allow users to keep up on the happenings and mundane details of a range of acquaintances.  It’s a tool that begs to be used.  But at the same time, like other innovations of the internet, it allows communication to become increasingly indirect.  When you can avoid discussing being in a relationship and what that implies  by simply posting it on Facebook and waiting for a confirmation, that’s not necessarily a good thing.  It reverts our social growth to the note-passing we did in middle school to ask people out, fearful of a direct rejection.  It dehumanizes a part of what should be a close and personal bond between two people.

I must admit, I was only recently aware that the ‘in a relationship with______’ function required authentication form the other party.  I had changed my status sometime last year to reflect that I was serious about Mike, and then promptly put the whole thing out of my head.  He only recently accepted the modification, possibly because he’s one of those who is rarely on the site what with his ‘real job’ and all.  What if I had been asking him out with that little change?  Would the consequent lack of response spawned negativity and confusion?  I hope not.  After all, a relationship should at least be more serious than the click of a mouse.