Basically, it’s just too damn social, there’s simply too much access. Especially when using it is critical to your business and turning it off isn’t an option. In the last couple of months, through my own experiences and those of some close friends who also, for the most part, live online, I’ve come to see just how invasive the digital world really is. And the new difficulties that it heaves on top of already excruciating circumstances.
Yes, people. I’m talking about the collision of heartbreak and the internet.
Come, take a walk with me through some real-life battlegrounds. I urge you to wear comfortable, rugged shoes. These streets are loaded with potholes, dog shit and detours.
1. The Divorce
This one is about me. I’m getting a divorce. It’s unbelievably amicable and we’re all okay. And, as a result, I’m insanely lucky, I know this. But still, my way is not easy. There is nothing simple or painless about it. And the internet has made it harder.
As two people strive to separate, there are the usual things to divvy up: kids, pets, house, furniture, music, art, books, feelings, hearts, taxes, memories, futures. But suddenly, there is also Facebook, where I have to decide whether or not to remove the ex and her family and friends from my friends list. There is my blog where I have to worry about people on my ex’s side of the fence reading and misinterpreting things I write. (like this post and quite a few others…hi G and J and M!) There’s online access to every conceivable account and monetary transaction.
It makes the separation much harder to create because it’s an illusion, there are no clear privacy boundaries. We’re connected in ways that are almost unseverable. I mean, those pages are cached.
2. The Relationship and the Business
One of my very best friends, we’ll call her Veronica, is in the process of dissolving a romantic relationship that had an internet business partnership attached. There’s a name, a url, a website, an online store, a blog and many, many customers/fans/readers/devotees.
And, her ex turned out to be an A-list asshole.
In the brick and mortar world, he would have had to pick up his sorry ass and move along, but not on the web, baby. Here he could steal content, mess with her site, grab logos and pictures at will, redirect links and cause mayhem. He has, he is and it appears he will continue to do so ad nauseum, ad infinitum.
She’s left to protect her brand, her followers, her content, her livelihood, her life.
3. And this one’s just about LOVE
I’ll call this friend Nora because I love that name (she’s actually three people rolled into one, but who’s counting?). She doesn’t have the distraction of worrying about legal documents or the logistics of a company’s demise, all she has is a broken heart. And it’s infused, smothered and surrounded by all things digital.
To leave this relationship, not only did she have to suffer the usual crushing blows of not talking to the boyfriend anymore, being alone and nursing a shattered world – there were other fish to fry. She had to remove him from her friends on Facebook, delete their IM connection on Google Chat, unfollow him on Twitter, disconnect on LinkedIn, take off the contact alert she had for him on her phone, then, finally, delete him from her phone altogether.
In the old days, when the relationship was over, you were lucky to get any info about your ex. You had to pry it out of mutual friends or spy. But, now, it’s pretty damn easy.
You just look at his Facebook status and you know who he’s talking to and where’s he’s been. And now, when my friend is working away on her computer not even thinking about the pain, her computer pings and flashes a message that the ex is now online via Skype – right there, just a click away, on the other side of the firewall. And the email, oh the email. Email allows you to communicate when you would never, ever make a phone call. It’s the breakup black hole loophole. And don’t forget about Google. Even after your social media access is gone, you can still Google and learn.
And there’s a whole ‘nother layer of un-control. Let’s say you blog and sometimes your personal life spills into this blog and you know that your ex is reading your blog. Do you block their IP address? That seems so extreme. “There’s not much you can do here,” Nora informed me. “But it’s infuriating. I’m no longer his business, you know? He gave up access to me when he left me (for all intents and purposes) bleeding on the floor. And now he can read my blog, see that I’m upright again and assuage his guilt? That is so not on.”
So cutting the cord on all of this access? It doesn’t come easily, but it has to happen to move along. To take these steps is to release any knowing, any threads. Nora told me there was physical pain as she moved from social networking site to social networking site obliterating these ties.
But after she was done? She felt better. “It was like slashing his tires or tossing his clothes out on the front lawn,” she said. Only, now, it’s done internet style with the click of a button.
Her phone (and Twitter and Facebook and…) asked her knowingly, “Are you sure you want to remove this person from your contacts?”
“Yes,” she declared with a sly little smile, “Damn sure.”
I think this post deserves a playlist, don’t you? Here they are then, my favorite breakup songs du jour (I have no idea why there are penguins in the ‘Last Kiss’ YouTube video – so don’t watch, just listen):
Please, by all means, add your stories or songs in the comments below…
Image credit: madaise