Back in the old days — I’m talking pre-Facebook here — I assume it was easier to break up with someone.
Just a quick conversation — thanks, this has been great, it’s not you, it’s me, etc. — and that would be it. No hassle, no strings and, other than an occasional run-in, you might never have to see or think about that person again.
If only it were that simple.
Now, every broken relationship leaves a not-so-easy-to-erase digital trail. While you might have said your goodbyes in person, you’re still left with a series of invisible techno-connections.
The trouble is, there’s no protocol for dealing with a breakup in the online world. Do I delete them from MSN and un-follow them on Twitter, but remain Facebook friends? How are we supposed to know the proper etiquette for severing these digital ties that bind? One thing is for sure; you never want to be the one who gets deleted first.
At one point, my ex and my current boyfriend happened to fall alphabetically next to each other on my BlackBerry contact list. Attempted multi-tasking and unco-ordinated fingers meant I occasionally sent private proclamations of love to the wrong person.
Anyway, while these absent-minded accidents made for hilarious dinner anecdotes the next day, they were always very awkward to recover from at the time. These slip-ups (and an unfortunate incident involving my BlackBerry and the sidewalk) eventually led me to purchase a new phone and delete that particular ex from my mobile world for good.
So, what took me so long? Hitting the delete button on the digital relationship is a lot harder than it seems. Secretly, I think we (or is it just me?) need these digital ties to keep tabs on all of those past romances gone wrong. Online connections satisfy our post-breakup curiosities about how the other person is doing and (OK, let’s be honest) who they’re dating.
It’s not so much a problem with letting go — I just want to be able to check up on them every now again.