Study explores how social media makes breakups much worse

Study explores how social media makes breakups much worse

Imagine flipping through your Facebook News Feed first thing in the morning and spotting a notification that your ex is now "in a relationship." Or maybe the Memories feature shows a photo from that beach vacation you took together last year. Or your ex-lover's new lover's mom shows up under People You May Know. Scenarios like these are real and not uncommon, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study exploring how breaking up is even harder to do in the digital age. "Before social media, break-ups still sucked, but it was much easier to get distance from the person," said Anthony Pinter, a doctoral student in the information science department and lead author of the study published in the journal Proceedings of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)."It can make it almost impossible to move on if you are constantly being bombarded with reminders in different places online." The research team recruited participants who had experienced an upsetting encounter online involving a break-up within the past 18 months and interviewed them for over an hour. Among 19 who underwent in-depth interviews, a disturbing trend emerged: Even when people took every measure they saw possible to remove their exes from their online lives, social media returned them - often multiple times a day. A lot of people make the assumption that they can just unfriend their ex or unfollow them and they are not going to have to deal with this anymore. Our work shows that this is not the case." Anthony Pinter, a doctoral student, lead author of the study News Feed, the primary interface that opens when one launches Facebook, was a major source of distress, delivering news of ex-lovers announcing they were in a new relationship. In one case, a participant noticed his roommate had already "liked" his ex's post. He was the last of his friends to know. Memories, which revives posts from years' past, was equally heart-rending, with one participant recalling how a sweet years-old message from his ex-wife popped up out of nowhere delivering an "emotional wallop." Many shared stories of encountering exes via their comments in shared spaces, such as groups or mutual friends' pictures. Related Stories



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