Break-Ups Are Now Facebook Official, Too

“Breaking up is never easy to do,” sang those immortal Swedish songsmiths, and they sang rightly. But like so many other psychologically messy events in modern life, it is rendered easier by Facebook, which lets you do it all online.

That’s according to a survey of 2,000 British adults ages 18-34 by YouGov and communications agency Diffusion, which found that 43% of respondents said they use Facebook to “confirm the end of a relationship.” That refers to a range of practices of varying pettiness, including “unfriending” the ex within a month of the relationship ending (42%), severing all online contact with the ex’s friends and family (31%), and purging all images of themselves and their ex (34%).

Meanwhile 65% said they would change their relationship status to single within a month of the relationship ending. On the other (slightly creepy) hand, 17% said it was okay to “stalk” their ex on social media to see if they have started a new relationship.

This study provides an interesting counterpoint to another study I wrote about in May, which suggested that social media makes it harder for people to move on after a relationship ends. According to that study, titled “Design for Forgetting: Disposing of Digital Possessions after a Breakup,” the ubiquity of “digital possessions” including photos, messages, music, email and and video “creates problems during a breakup, as people ‘inhabit’ their digital space where photos and music constantly remind them about their prior relationship.”

The study, which included interviews with 24 subjects ages 19-34, found that the volume of digital possessions far outnumbered the volume of physical keepsakes linked to a relationship. 40% of the digital possessions consisted of photo collections, 20% were social network contacts, 7% were music collections, 6% were relationship status on social networks, 5% were emails, and 5% were text messages.

Of course some forward-thinking people actually break up via social media, which strikes me as the height of technological convenience. Also in May, I wrote about a survey of 4,000 women around the world by AVG Technologies, which found that 19% of women ages 18-25 said they have ended a relationship by posting on Facebook. Meanwhile 38% of women in the same age-range said they have broken up via text message.

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