Facebook Breakup Etiquette

Facebook Breakup Etiquette-Jules Hirst Etiquette CoachHere is a great arti­cle where 200 teens from the Boston area gath­ered to dis­cuss face­book breakup breakup eti­quette.  Par­ents now would be a great time to enroll your teen, pre-teen in an eti­quette course.… just a thought.

Late last month, 200 teenagers from Boston-area schools gath­ered to dis­cuss the minu­tia of Face­book breakup eti­quette. Should you delete pic­tures of your ex after split­ting up? Is it O.K. to unfriend your last girl­friend if you can’t stop look­ing at her pro­file? And is it ever eth­i­cally defen­si­ble to change your rela­tion­ship sta­tus to sin­gle with­out first noti­fy­ing the per­son whose heart you’re crushing?

These press­ing ado­les­cent ques­tions were part of a one-day con­fer­ence on healthy breakup spon­sored by the Boston Pub­lic Health Com­mis­sion. No one talks to young peo­ple about this aspect of rela­tion­ships, Nicole Daley, one of the con­fer­ence orga­niz­ers, told me between break­out ses­sions as teenagers swarmed a nearby cotton-candy stand. We’re here to change that.

Min­utes later, 15 high-school stu­dents on a sugar high con­vened for a ses­sion on cre­at­ing online bound­aries. The girls out­num­bered the boys, and they didn’t hes­i­tate to gang up on a charm­ing and, until then, immensely well liked 17-year-old named Roberto, who pro­claimed with a bit too much gusto that rac­ing to update your rela­tion­ship sta­tus after a breakup is a healthy behav­ior. That was just one of a hand­ful of sce­nar­ios the teenagers debated and placed into a healthy unhealthy cat­e­gories: oth­ers included post­ing mean/embarrassing sta­tuses about your ex (unhealthy) and rush­ing into a new Face­book offi­cial rela­tion­ship (under­stand­able, but still not healthy).

Roberto, you’re really going to run all the way to your house after school to change your sta­tus? a 16-year-old named Lazangie asked, shak­ing her head. She knows a thing or two about Facebook-related breakups: her last rela­tion­ship ended, she said, because her ex-boyfriend couldn’t han­dle her male friends post­ing niceties on her wall.

When I’m done with a rela­tion­ship, I’m not going to wait a day, an hour or even 10 min­utes to update my sta­tus, Roberto told the group. When it’s over, it’s over. I’m done with you.

The key word here is rac­ing, another girl replied with all the con­de­scen­sion she could muster. Is that really healthy? Break­ing up shouldn’t be a competition!

The group’s adult facil­i­ta­tor who wore a blue Face It, Don’t Face­book It  pin, in a ref­er­ence to the appar­ently trou­bling trend of young peo­ple break­ing up with one another via social media nod­ded in agree­ment and sug­gested that Roberto con­sider tak­ing a tech­nol­ogy time­out the next time he felt com­pelled to race home and pub­licly declare his sin­gle­hood. Roberto reluc­tantly agreed to consider it.

Through­out the one-day meet­ing, orga­niz­ers did their best to make the teenagers for­get they were about to learn some­thing. They were encour­aged to freely use their cell­phones ( note’s the kind of adults who tell you not to use them! An orga­nizer boasted dur­ing the day’s open­ing ses­sion), and breakup-themed songs, like Kelly Clark­son Since U Been Gone, blasted from the main con­fer­ence room’s speak­ers. The pan­der­ing worked: I saw only one teen roll her eyes all day.

To help the young­sters envi­sion what a healthy split might look like, pic­tures and videos of sev­eral celebrity cou­ples who man­aged ami­ca­ble breakups were pro­jected onto a big screen. Justin Tim­ber­lake and Cameron Diaz, for exam­ple, were her­alded as healthy because they’re still friends and were able to co-star in a movie together. Their part­ing was jux­ta­posed with those of Kanye West and Amber Rose (West wrote a mean song about her) and Sammi and Ron­nie from Jer­sey Shore (Sammi sup­pos­edly defriended Ronnie’s friends on her Face­book page), who each exhib­ited the kind of unhealthy breakup behav­ior that the Boston Health Com­mis­sion hopes Mass­a­chu­setts young peo­ple will rise above.

In that pur­suit, orga­niz­ers encour­aged the crowd to eschew part­ing ways over text mes­sage or Face­book, the most com­mon teen breakup meth­ods. (A bisex­ual 15-year-old con­fessed in a morn­ing ses­sion that she learned that her girl­friend of two years had dumped her only when she changed her rela­tion­ship sta­tus to sin­gle.) Atten­dees were advised with mixed results to bravely con­front the awk­ward­ness of face-to-face breakups. When the facil­i­ta­tor in a ses­sion titled Breakups 101 sug­gested that teenagers meet with and come to an agree­ment or mutual under­stand­ing with a soon-to-be ex, a skep­ti­cal 19-year-old nearly leapt out of her chair in protest. So, you’re telling me that you’re cry­ing at night, you’re not sleep­ing, you’re eat­ing all this food to make you feel bet­ter, and you’re sup­posed to just come to an agree­ment?

That sounded like wish­ful think­ing to at least one teenager, who insisted that dat­ing in high school is for suck­ers. Who needs the drama? She said, adding that many peers choose friend­ships or casual sex­ual rela­tion­ships over for­mal roman­tic ones. I’ve got enough prob­lems with­out some stu­pid boy break­ing up with me on Facebook.

Source: The New York Times
Writ­ten by: BENOIT DENIZET-LEWIS