Monday, May 24, 2010

Internet Etequette 101: Class 2 Part B

Ah, yes... the worst has happened. You and snookums have broken up. How could your three week passion burn out so quickly, especially after you plastered pictures of the two of you on every social media site you know, and dedicated several blog posts describing each romantic encounter in great detail? Ah, the great mysteries of life. Now is the time to regroup with a dose of IE 101. We will address this topic from the following angles, a 'good' break up, and a 'bad' break up.

The Good Break Up Scenario... right
Yes, I am skeptical but there are people that insist that some break ups are 'mutual' and sometimes there are 'no hard feelings'. Again, right. But if you are one of the .000001 % of the population that has actually parted on good terms, here are the dos and do nots to guide you during that awkward transition phase.
Dos
1- Respect the person's privacy.
This may be done by NOT stalking their blog and commenting on it. Same goes for facebook. Why? You ask. Well let me remind you, that moving from dating to being Just Friends, is not like being a normal Just Friends. You are always going to be the ex girl/boyfriend and whether or not you intend anything untoward, other people look at this and either think you can't let go, or that you are a stalker.
2-Be polite, but give proper space.
Since there are no good guys or bad guys in your hypothetical romance gone awry. There is no reason for you to be unkind or smothering. Even if this WAS a bad break up... there is no reason to be uncivil. Don't use social media as an outlet to analyze why your relationship didn't work out. Sure, the vulgarly curious will read the details (guilty) but ultimately relationships should never be public domain, and your take on things won't often mirror your ex's take on things.
Don'ts
1- Email/Text your 'friend' 24/7
You broke up! There is no reason to keep communication so open. If you work together, limit correspondence to work related matters. If you play on a sports team and need to send texts to everyone to remind them about this week's Ultimate Frisbee Tournament (I use 'sport' lightly and threw that UF in because the Beardocrat loves him some frisbee) by all means send it, but don't get personal. Chances are you probably have mutual friends (seeing that you decided to stay friends and not burn bridges all together... that is the only scenario I can imagine where this would indeed be a friendly parting) and combine group activities. That is okay, but don't try to slip in the "So are you dating anyone?" line.
2-Facebook flirty comments.
Basically the ONLY reason you would do this is to keep other people away or sabotage future relationships. Don't do this. It is immature and not worthy behavior for anyone.
3-Continue trying to 'friend' all of your ex's friends and family.
There is no need. That portion of your life is over. Let it go. Please, let it go.

The Bad Breakup Scenario... or as I like to call it, reality.*
So one of you wanted to hang on. One of you wanted to let go. One of you cheated on the other. One of you was a dirty rotten liar. One of you was only using the other. One of you was a con artist and/or bigamist. Yes, break ups can get ugly. Even if you were the innocent party to a horrifying break up (hardly likely, but okay, I am feeling generous today). Here are the dos and do nots to show you how to proceed with both class and dignity.
Dos-
1-Remove him/her as a friend on facebook.
It is okay. It happens. No one with think less of you. You can also remove his/her family members and his/her friends that have no link or actual relationship to you except via your ex.
2-BE POLITE
I really have to stress this because I find that people use the internet to be the biggest jerks to one another. Sure, some of you are saying, but aren't YOU a jerk for judging these poor people... yes, and no. I have what I believe is a standard for behavior, which I inflict on myself and honestly think the world would be a better place if other people behaved this way, but at the end of the day, MANY of my friends and acquaintances will not. Do I hate them? No. Do I publicly and/or personally attack them? No. This is why I stress being polite. If you go around using the internet to viciously attack your ex and air a list of grievances... well, it kind of makes YOU a jerk.
Don'ts
1- Post horrible things about your ex, his/her new girlfriends, or his/her friends and family online.
There is no reason to make an ugly break up even uglier. There is also no reason to be hurtful or humiliating to other people. IF your ex's current girl/boyfriend contacts you to clarify certain things that happened in your relationship, it is up to your discretion how to respond. If I were presented with this dilemma, I would try to respond dispassionately and unemotionally only about the facts.
2- Try to get everyone 'on your side' by telling your story all over town.
Chances are this only makes you look bad, and only shows that you are obsessed. Sure, you are going to want to let your good friends in on what happened. And sure, this might be a major help in getting over the whole fiasco, but the minute your find yourself going on at length to any mutual acquaintance about what a loser he/she is citing private relationship information, you've crossed a very clear line and you need to, Again. LET. IT. GO.
*In the event that your breakup was the result of Physical, Sexual, or Emotional abuse, or if these things were part of your relationship, seek the proper legal authorities and therapy.

My Break Up Story
Lest you think that I am all sorts of on my high horse without any experience in this matter. Let me share a little story with you about my own life. I was once dating this guy. He had a beard. He had artsy square glasses. Happily, he did not wear skinny jeans. This young (ish) man and I had a lot in common. 1-Love of obscure music 2- Aversion to marshmallows 3- Attachment to mountains. Were we MFEO? Yes, most certainly we were. Did I tell the world on facebook and my blog? Hades no! I am a private person. Well, this bearded paragon and I came to the point in our relationship where it was time to part ways. I'd parted ways with lots of people (granted, none with beards) and I thought I knew how it would play out. I had my escape plan-
1- Write lots of angry cryptic chick rock/folk music featuring various aspects of the relationship, but vague enough, and with catchy enough choruses to not OBVIOUSLY be about the Beardocrat. Check.
2- Delete him from my gchat contacts. Check.
3- Hide him on facebook and NOT go looking at his page. Check.
4- Stop reading his blog. Check.
Here is where it got tricky. The Beardocrat and I lived a stone's throw away from one another. We had mutual friends that we'd acquired as a couple. We were involved in the same church. A bunch of his friends and relatives had added me on facebook and vice versa. What to do and how to proceed? Well, I had my plans for 4-6 months after the breakup.
5- 4 months out do the grand 'friend purge' and get rid of his friends/family.
6- Limit social interactions with friends who I considered more His than Mine. This proved complex since we had friends that we'd met separately before we were dating.
7- Avoid locations where I knew the Beardocrat would show up.
8-Never, ever, EVER, speak negatively about the Beardocrat to anyone.
9-6 Months out, move to another location. That way I could THEN delete him as a friend and the relationship would truly be over, harmoniously.
Sure, it didn't exactly work out that way. The Beardocrat and I got married, instead. But, you can ask ANY of our friends and they will assure you that NEITHER I or my ex ex (current husband) enacted our mini drama in the public eye. That is why our friends and families welcomed when we got back together, and were excited when we got married. So folks, it can be done. You too can break up without being an idiot. Good luck.