Facebook revenge: Announcing your breakup and blocking your ex
If love is a battlefield, then Facebook has become the Internet equivalent of the Cold War. Case in point: after the lengthy collapse of one of my previous relationships, I was shocked to find my ex-girlfriend’s relationship status changed to “single” within mere hours of our parting. I quickly responded in kind by updating my relationship status and sharing flirtatious comments on the walls of new, potential love interests, secretly hoping these playful posts would reach my ex the next time she scrolled through her news feed.
Thanks to the immediate protection and tempting passive-aggressive opportunities afforded by Facebook, we continued our trivial war for weeks afterwards, scrambling to curry the favor of mutual friends with links to humorous videos, quizzes that revealed how well we knew each other, and invitations to exciting local events that our group of friends (including my ex-girlfriend) would have attended anyway — as if this battle for friends could have resulted in anything less than disaster. We tried in vain to use Facebook to signal the magnetism of our character and perhaps instill some doubt in the other person — of course, with no intention of dating each other ever again.
Checking her profile almost daily, it wasn’t long before I felt like an honorary member of the Facebook group mentioned in this year’s Best American Non-Required Reading, a group ironically titled “Where Stalkers Unite.” Soon, however — wise to our growing obsession with online revenge — she eventually removed me from her friend list altogether. In retrospect, my removal was perhaps for the better: she ended our digital dance and provided closure to our breakup, both online and off.
In truth, Facebook not only gives members the unique ability to easily connect with our friends, some parted by thousands of miles, but it also allows us to spy on old flames who have since receded to smoldering ashes. We desperately blow on the dwindling fire in hopes of rekindling something lost. Even if there is no hope of starting again, we at least demonstrate — as evidenced by the comments on our walls by other men and/or women — how obviously wrong the other person was to break off the relationship.
Perhaps Facebook grants the brokenhearted the new opportunity, from the sanctuary of our computers, for some emotional catharsis. Yet maybe this new online battleground has only served to feed our unhealthy desires for relationship vengeance in the digital era, infecting our hearts with new online psychoses. Whether psychologically helpful or destructive, only one thing’s for certain: Facebook opens new potential for accepting breakups, even if a few punches land below the belt.
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