To begin, a friend-of-a-friend is currently going through a divorce. She is 24-years old, married at 20. That in itself is difficult. She recently traveled here to Phoenix to stay with my friend in hopes she could escape all the gossip for awhile. Yesterday, my friend and I walked in on her crying at her laptop.
“What’s going on?” my friend asked.
“He changed his relationship status on Facebook. Everyone is commenting on it and I just got this huge email from his sister,” said the soon-to-be-divorcee.
Oh, there is so SO much wrong with that statement.
Social media allows so much anonymity and disconnect that people do not realize the impact of a simple switch of information in a profile. People can hide behind Facebook and Twitter instead of really addressing relationships problems. I’ve seen people breakup with their significant other over Facebook because they didn’t have the balls to do it in person. I’ve seen friendships disintegrate with the simple click of “unfollow” or “remove friend”.
Unfortunately that is not the only way the prevalence of social media has impacted relationship dynamics in my opinion.
I’m going to share a personal experience of my own to illustrate another issue of social media and relationships. In the past year or so I broke up with a boyfriend. Nothing special – happens every day. It was an amicable break up, not the result of a fight or cheating, etc. As a result of this relationship, I had assimilated into his group of friends.
The breakup pretty much ensured I would not see them again socially, in person. However, social media had added another layer of connection – one that was not automatically severed upon the breakup.
What to do?
I had intended to be passive, just simply keep the connections but not actively engage. However, they were still actively engaging him. I was getting updates, photos, descriptions of weekend events through blogs, Facebook and twitter – information I did not want to receive as the wounds were still too fresh.
So, I cut them off.
Social media provides an additional outlet for people to engage and build relationships. It’s a fantastic medium, one which has allowed me to make many new friends over the course of the last year.
However, this same trait that makes it so beneficial also restricts ones ability to escape situations and people – just as my friend-of-a-friend’s divorce followed her all the way to Phoenix over Facebook.
**Note: Check out my friend Stacy’s awesome blog post about a similar issue.