Have you had the uncomfortable experience of watching a social media train wreck?
I’ve seen more than a few, myself. In fact, just recently I came across an entire article about one.[i]
The girl was cheated on, so she told everyone what a two-timing jerk her guy was – on Facebook. She even tagged him in the post!
He replied, of course, and before long they were in an all-out post-breakup war right there on the internet. Classy, right?
Social media, like Facebook, has become a big part of our lives. It’s a shared conversation that never stops. For the most part, it’s a good thing that helps people stay connected.
And your relationship status is baked right into social media. It’s part of your default profile information. Which begs the question, how do you handle your relationship status, good or bad, online?
Answer: In ways that enrich, enable, and encourage your relationships.
Note that I said relationships, plural. Everyone in your social circle gets to see how you deal with romantic ups and downs online. Anyone who sees you acting like the star of your own reality TV show will think twice the next time they talk to you.
Whether you’re debating about changing your status from “single” to “in a relationship,” or wanting to let everyone know about a breakup, what you share on social media matters.
The following guidelines will help you avoid common social media pitfalls that tear relationships apart.
Remember that online conversations have a different set of rules.
According to a 2013 study[ii], it’s alarmingly common for people to take on uncivilized tones when discussing emotional topics online. Even if the topic is presented in a neutral way!
When you say something about your partner (or ex-partner) online, don’t assume your friends and family will play nice. It’s easy for online conversations to turn nasty fast.
Before you vent about a romantic hiccup via Facebook, consider how this will impact all your present and future relationships. Don’t think of it as a passing thought shared with one or two close friends. And be sure to take into account that social media doesn’t really encourage polite discussion.
When you need to share candidly, do that offline.
Of course, there are times when you’d like to let your entire social network know about changes in your relationship status.
Whether you just got engaged or just split, the people in your life will understandably want to know.
But as convenient as social media is, it’s not the most appropriate venue for sharing sensitive information. Tackle those conversations offline.
Be like Angelina Jolie.
Sure, Jolie had her fair share of drama when she was younger. But these days, she tends to keep her private life private.
Even after multiple adoptions and in the midst of relationship woes with Brad Pitt, she doesn’t indulge in a lot of gossip. Which makes her a surprisingly good role model, at least in this sense.
Consider your Facebook friends you haven’t talked to since high school. Do they really need to know that you and your guy broke up? Probably not. So why bother telling them in a Facebook post?
Social media does a lot to enrich our lives. But like anything else, too much of a good thing will wreak havoc.
Even if all your friends air their dirty laundry online, resist the temptation to join them. Remember that online conversations tend to bring out our uncivilized side.
Keep the private information you share to a minimum, and fall back on face-to-face conversations when you need to share big stuff.