Defriend, delete, update status: the broken heart social media cleanse

Social networking brings new challenges to a relationship.Photo / Thinkstock
Social networking brings new challenges to a relationship.Photo / Thinkstock

Modern break-ups are, it would appear, a lot more complicated than those of past generations.

It used to be that ending a relationship was between two people, and two people alone; now there are the opinions of others to consider, as well as the post-break-up feelings of your ex when he reads about what you're doing online... and it's all down to wretched social media. A particular debt of "gratitude" is owed, of course, to Facebook.

As a result, having a "social media cleanse" when a relationship crumbles into dust is increasingly common, with 42 per cent of people 'unfriending' their ex on Facebook or unfollowing them on Twitter before they've been broken up for a month, and 34 per cent deleting all online images of their former love, according to research.

Furthermore, almost a third (31 per cent) would extend the cull and remove all contact with their ex-partner's friends and family as well.

Dramatically, one in three (34 per cent) of 18 to 34-year-olds consider it acceptable for break-up cleanses to also involve deleting all photographs which feature their ex-partner; effectively removing the relationship's digital footprint and rewriting their personal social media history.

The survey of over 2,000 British people makes up part of Diffusion's UK Social-ology Study 2013 into on how our personal lives are played out in our social media activity.

The research also revealed that social media is a stage upon which the broken-hearten can publicly announce that they have moved on.

Two in three (65 per cent) deem it acceptable to flaunt their new unattached status by changing their Facebook profile to 'single' within the first month of a break-up, while one in five (18 per cent) would happily change their Facebook status to 'in a relationship' with someone new within the first month.

Similarly, nearly a third (30 per cent) say that it's okay to upload and tag pictures with a new love interest within the first month of a break-up.

But this pubic display of moving on goes both ways: nearly a fifth (17 per cent) think it's acceptable to 'stalk' an ex-partner's social media channels for evidence they are with someone new.

Psychologist and behavioural expert, Professor Craig Jackson, of Birmingham City University said the findings confirm what many psychologists have suspected about those who have grown up surrounded by social media.

"They fall in 'digital love' quickly (that is, to provide online confirmation and validation of a new relationship) but are just as capable of falling out of it quickly too, and with some clinical precision.

"When new romances form, the digital confirmation (e.g. Facebook status) is often viewed as THE confirmation of the new relationship that makes it both real and public.

"It makes sense then that this method is also used as a decisive means of confirming to the world the end of a romance."


- Daily Mail

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