Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs


Facebook and other social media outlets have become the norm for daily communications by people of all ages. It has been used to fuel international protests (remember Egypt and Tahrir Square?) as well as documenting an individual’s every move, thought – including breakups.

Face It, Don’t Facebook it

Facebook (FB) has become the primary way to communicate, especially for people under the age of 30, so it should come as not surprise that an increasing number of breakups are happening online. During a session on teaching adolescents to break up nicely conducted in Boston last month, a group facilitator sported a pin, “Face it, don’t Facebook it” in an effort to convince young adults to actually talk to someone to convey the news that they no longer want to be a couple.  People are migrating to a fully electronic world, communicating by text messages and FB postings. It’s becoming rare to get a phone call when it’s so much easier just to type it out in a message.

It’s true that FB provides an easy way to deal with difficult situations. It reminds me of the Sex in The City episode when Burger breaks up with Carrie on a Post-it note, Season 6, Episode 7. I think it’s safe to assume that Carrie Bradshaw would be equally as incredulous about FB breakups.

Technical Timeout’s

Don’t get me wrong. FB plays an important role in promoting communications, advancing friendships and networks. But, should we consider taking a technical time out from social media once in a while, so people can remember how to talk and interact?

Facing, not Racing From, the Issues

Breakups can be complicated and upsetting, but can be handled in ways to minimize hurt feelings and other fallout. While face-to-face breakups are more difficult than texting/FB postings, the personal contact can provide an opportunity to talk about why things didn’t work out, allowing both people to come to terms and even learn from the experience.

Being more concerned about racing to change your relationship status after a breakup, instead of taking the time to talk things over with a newly-exed, just doesn’t seem right. We all need to work on communication skills to handle the tough talks, whether it’s a break up, firing someone from a job or simply being honest with a friend.  I’m a big fan of FB, just not using Facebook instead of our voices.

What about you? Have you had an online breakup? How did it feel?

How do you think a breakup should be handled?

Janet Walkow is the Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Drug Dynamics Institute at The University of Texas and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.


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