Digital Tears: Breakups And Social Networks Separations are hard enough. But then there's the question of what to do when it comes to the social networking ties you share with your former significant other. To break or not to break? It's a question many people are grappling with as they examine their digital personas.
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Digital Tears: Breakups And Social Networks

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Digital Tears: Breakups And Social Networks

Digital Tears: Breakups And Social Networks

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


And I'm Michele Norris.

And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Occasionally in this segment, we explore how technology affects the way we relate to each other.

All Tech producer Shereen Meraji looks at how technology is changing the breakup just in time for Valentine's Day.

SHEREEN MERAJI: Gigi Quintana is a veteran of breaking hearts in the age of social networking. She recently parted ways with a girlfriend...

Ms. GIGI QUINTANA: It was an eight-month, nine-month relationship.

MERAJI: ...and says putting an end to their online connection was just as difficult as the breakup itself. Her Facebook status said, in a relationship, so she deleted it. But that's not all.

Ms. QUINTANA: Yeah. I blocked her sister. I blocked everyone that knew her. And she is still friends with my friends, so I had to go to the extent of blocking her.

MERAJI: Quintana was on a smoke break from her coffee shop job at a place called Tryst. It's full of people surfing the Net and quite a few had an opinion about what it's like to break up when you're virtually tied to your ex by Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Delicious, MySpace, Flickr, Foursquare and Facebook.

Ms. DAISY MONTIGUE(ph): My name is Daisy Montigue. An ex-boyfriend contacted me and then wanted to be friends, so then we were friends on Facebook. And then his wife didn't want me to be friends with him anymore.

Mr. OMAR NUSRY(ph): First name is Omar. Last name is Nusry. I enjoy not having to tell the entire world your business. One moment, large skimmed mocha.

DAVID MUSE(ph): David Muse. If I'm no longer in a relationship with you, I don't need to check up on you. And, especially, after we break up why do I need to go and see what you're doing?

MERAJI: Okay, so David Muse may not need to check up on his exes not Paul Monday. He is a blogger and avid social networker. And he sums up this digital impulse with the analog phrase, driving by.

Mr. PAUL MONDAY (Blogger; Social Networker): Where you don't unfriend or they have not toned down their privacy settings. And you drive by the other person's profile and you look at it and you just, it's basically like stabbing yourself in the heart again every four hours or something, you know.

MERAJI: Monday has an ex-wife, an ex-fiance and a nine-year-old son and they're all on Facebook. But they're not all Facebook friends. So, when Facebook suggested Paul's son friend his ex-fiance.

Mr. MONDAY: It was it's sort of like getting hit with a bat to have an ex-fiance, and an ex-wife, myself all in this forum centered around my son. It was just, I think, too overwhelming for me. And to respect everyone, I actually said no to him.

Mr. LEE RAINIE (Director, Internet and American Life Project, Pew Research Center): The absolutely tricky part about this is that it's very hard to unspool these relationships once they have begun without absolutely destroying the digital person that you have become.

MERAJI: Lee Rainie is the director of Pew's Internet and American Life Project. He studies the way the Internet affects how we relate to one another.

Ms. JUDITH MARTIN (Relationship Advice Guru) Don't go public with your so-called private life.

MERAJI: Relationship advice guru Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners weighs in.

Ms. MARTIN: You know, I was talking about this with my daughter and she said George Orwell's "1984" has come about, but it's not them doing it to us, it's us doing it to ourselves. We're watching ourselves every minute and posting everything out there. Change your password folks and don't go snooping around on the Internet on purpose.

MERAJI: Twenty-one year old Kella Vangsness is trying to follow Miss Manners' old-school advice. She recently broke up with her guy and decided to quit Facebook and Twitter altogether to speed up the healing process.

Ms. KELLA VANGSNESS: I mean, I can't imagine life without it, but I have been off it for almost a week and I'm doing fine.

MERAJI: Long gone are the days when you could throw the ex's toothbrush in the trash and burn the shoebox of photo evidence of your once-happy coupledom.

(Soundbite of song, "You Keep Me Hanging On")

Ms. DIANA ROSS (Singer): (Singing) Set me free, why don't you baby? Get out my life, why don't you baby?

MERAJI: Shereen Meraji, NPR News.

(Soundbite of song, "You Keep Me Hanging On")

Ms. ROSS (Singer): (Singing) You just keep me hanging on.

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