This weekend I was browsing Twitter on a Saturday night. Please, don’t lecture me on how shameful that probably is, believe me when I say “I get it”. Someone I follow (Cali Bradshaw!) tweeted the simple question “What do I do when my ex won’t stop commenting on my foursquare check-ins!?” Without missing a beat I said “Unfriend!” “Touche”, she replied “But it’s hard because I want to remain friends. Maybe unrealistic?”
“No. Friendship is realistic, but digital friendship is NOT.”
I stand by what I said. Being Facebook Friends with an ex, or really, being digitally connected to your ex at all is inherently harder than being real-life-friends with him or her. In a way, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. takes the reality of your new singleness, whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee, and forces you to deal with it one “like”, 140 characters, or one check-in at a time. Real-life-friendship allows for an invisible line to remain between you and your ex; information can be controlled. The amount of time you’re forced to interact is limited. And if you were the dumpee, well, you’re free to heal in peace. Pleasantries can be exchanged, but dirty details? Those can be left to the imagination.
Friday nights that were once spent wondering what an ex was doing are actually a lot harder now..you have hard evidence of who he or she is with and what, exactly, they’re doing. A check-in one foursquare can confirm their exactly location. And if that isn’t enough, check Facebook the next day for photographic evidence of the good time that ensued.
What you’d never dare ask in real life “Who were you with?” “What were you doing?” “Are you seeing someone?” is answered right before your very eyes–without even having to ask. How simply droll. Digital friendships make relationships harder to forget, harder to overcome, harder to let go.
It’s not all about having to endure someone’s updates in your timeline. It’s also about having someone read your updates, your whereabouts, your new life. There is something healthy about not having an ex read your disconnected thoughts in 140 characters. Something healthy about not knowing your whereabouts on Foursquare, your new friendship connections on Facebook. I think, in some way, social networking sites have taken what are tiny details of our minds and lives, and put them center-stage. What may have been an afterthought years ago are now on display for our connections to read…and having an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend privy to these mundane but prominent thoughts? It’s just not serving anyone.
If I saw The Boyfriend tomorrow on the street, I would absolutely talk to him. And I have no doubt he’d talk to me. We’d play casual catch up. But there is no way in hell you could convince either of us to friend the other on Facebook. In fact, we accidentally ended up as Twitter friends once, and it was about 8 hours of disaster. We simultaneously unadded one another an sent an email that explained our rationale. Strangely enough, it was fairly similar. It was too intimate for him to allow me to read his thoughts; I felt too uncomfortable reading his thoughts as well. Despite my insistence that I am a product of technology…that I prefer texting, Facebooking and the ilk, I will say that when it comes to exes and relationships..I am most definitely a fan of face-to-face interactions only.
Do your digital relationships seem easier? Do you have your exes on any sort of filter on your various social network sites?