Breaking Up Is Hard To Do:
Myspace makes it even harder...
It’s hard to move on after a break up. As cliché as it sounds, only time and space will fix a broken heart. That’s why, after a split, it’s important to end all communication and avoid hearing news about your ex until you’re ready. After all, there’s nothing worse than finding out he’s got a new girlfriend – that kind of info can really throw a wrench in the healing process.
Less than a decade ago it was pretty easy to sever all ties. You’d stop phoning your ex and, if he called, you wouldn’t return his message. If you knew where he hung out, you’d avoid those places. Sure, the process was emotionally challenging. But, if you followed the rules and made your ex “disappear,” the only things that could go wrong were either accidental, like running into him at a movie, or unavoidable, like seeing him in class.
Jenny* had always solely relied on these techniques to deal with past breakups. So when she and her boyfriend of three years split up last February, she was totally unprepared for what happened after. “I couldn’t believe how much had changed in the five years since my last serious break up,” she says. “After Brent left, it felt like all the rules I used to follow when it came to moving on became totally obsolete and I found myself facing this new obstacle I wasn’t ready to deal with – Myspace.” In Jenny’s opinion, almost nothing makes it harder to get over a break up than social-networking sites like Friendster, Xanga, Facebook and, the worst offender of all, Myspace.
Though Jenny’s work requires her to be on the Internet every day, she’s not part of the generation that grew up with it. Unlike many people who don’t remember a time when the Net wasn’t available to help them with homework, let them communicate with long-distance friends and family, and connect them with millions of strangers around the world, when Jenny shuts down her computer at 5 p.m., it’s the last she sees of the Internet for the day. “It just wasn’t a normal part of my life growing up, so it’s not really a habit or essential for me. I like it and I use it and it would be impossible for me to work without it, but I don’t feel like I need to be on it 24/7.”
For these reasons, and also because she was focused on her real-life relationship when Myspace blew up, Jenny had no idea so many people were connecting virtually through the site until long after it launched. “Two weeks after our break up my ex decided to create a profile on Myspace,” Jenny says. “I’d been doing OK dealing with things until a friend who uses Myspace found Brett’s new profile and e-mailed me. That’s when things started going downhill.”
Jenny’s not alone. With the help of Myspace and other sites like it, anyone suffering from a painful break up may find themselves just a few clicks away from uncovering all sorts of dirt on their ex. For Jenny, this literally translated into an unhealthy addiction she could not shake. “I was on Myspace checking his profile all the time,” she says. “I couldn’t do my work because I was back on the site every few minutes checking for updates and new ‘friends’ on his list. Since I’m not hooked up at home, I’d walk by an Internet café after work every day to check it again. I was totally obsessed. No matter what anyone said or what I tried to tell myself, I couldn’t shake the habit. It was definitely the worst form of self-torture.”
If you cling to memories of former lovers, these social-networking sites have made getting on with life more drawn out and painful than ever. More than 70 million people have created online profiles for themselves, posting only the most flattering pictures (a large percentage of which are taken in a mirror), writing deep and philosophical-sounding blogs, and proudly displaying their current relationship status. Even couples who are together are more than likely to have individual profiles posted somewhere, creating a new and potentially negative opportunity to keep tabs on your partner.
As Jenny found out, it’s tempting to obsessively check these profiles after a relationship ends. “My worst fear logging on each day was to see he changed his status from ‘single’ to ‘in a relationship,’” she says. “Even though it hasn’t happened yet, my heart broke all over again every time I saw a new girl added to his friends list. I remember running to the bathroom to throw up, and having to take whole days off work. Next to my actual break up, each of those felt like the worst day of my life.”
Another thing these sites allow you to do more quickly and easily than ever before is discover the identity of your ex’s new partner. Mike admits he told all his friends to visit his ex’s new boyfriend’s Myspace profile and to pour on the harassment by leaving rude comments below his pictures and on his page.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that mining an ex’s online profile kills the healing process. Avoiding him is no longer as simple as letting the phone go to voice mail or taking the long route so you don’t pass his house. Now it seems like he’s living right there in your laptop, and it’s harder than ever to avoid him. But by not doing so, you almost always find out what you don’t want to know – not to mention feel guilty while you’re doing it. ¤ Noa