Today a friend changed his relationship on Facebook from "married" to "it's complicated."
Back in the days before computers and the internet, a failed relationship was broadcast through phone calls and the mail, if at all. Now you can tell everyone through your online networks in a single keystroke. In the new world where news is found online and not in print, we expect the latest the instant it happens - with relationships the question is not who you heard it from but "Who uploaded it first?" It is a race to be the first one to declare "singlehood", like the last "gotcha" in the burned out husk of a crumbled romance.
As much as I find it appalling to unleash my own demons onto the unsuspecting world (and my demons are not appealing or interesting), I am hugely curious about other peoples'. I will post on their walls comments like "Details girlfriend!" or "So sorry to hear that, I am here for you" to "Never liked him/her anyhow". And it's all there for everyone to read, and if you are really creative you can upload a picture of yourself doing a thumbs down with the ex's photo.
After the end, do they go back and take out all the photos of themselves with the "ex"? Or do they leave them in there to remind themselves not to date someone similar? Oh the choices. And they get to make them all live and online. In this world of instant gratification, do we also cut our ties to one another so quickly by just a keystroke? Excised from our Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, and LinkedIn - you can go down the list; with each "delete" you can shed a tear for each connection now broken.
The difference with relationships made online is that they can be easily cut because there was no physical connection, it's just words and images back and forth - there was no handshake or hug - it is possible to fly away without much notice or care. But those real life relationships cannot be cut so easily, nor should they be. They are real and have history, and should be treated with dignity and honor. The way to heal a broken relationship is to respect that part that was shared privately and to honor it as such because love is not binary but made of flesh and blood. A "delete" is a move of a finger, and a sizable shift of the heart.
Image: Ophelia Chong / Abandoned