The Facebook Breakup

Illustration: Rodrigo Corral

Excerpt from this article:

For Kate Sokoloff, a brand strategist in Portland, Ore., the Facebook mirror of her breakup with her boyfriend of three years was like “an emotional sucker punch,” she said. “Not 15 minutes after we broke up four years ago, and probably while he was still parked outside of my house, he changed his status to ‘single.’”

A breakup has stages of aggressiveness, said Morgan Smith, 18, a freshman at Northwestern University.

“If you block your ex on every platform, that’s like 10 on the scale,” she said. “If I cut my ex off on Facebook, it’s also too much negative energy on my part. I want to extend a polite opening for the future. I don’t want to see what you do every day with your life” — as on Snapchat, for example — “but if you’re accepted to the study-abroad program or become class president, I would like to congratulate you. Facebook is more of a long-term document of your life.”

For Madeline Kaufman, 20, a journalism student at Northwestern, her Facebook breakup was like a game of digital chicken. It took her four months to “break up” with her long-term boyfriend on Facebook, though they had done so in the real world.

“He kept his status ‘in a relationship’ for another two months,” she said. “It was a weird ‘letting go’ concept I had to get over, and was weirdly hard for me to do. But I guess in that respect I may have ‘won’ because I took mine down first.”