21st Century Breakups

If we're being honest with ourselves, breakups are never in any way enjoyable. Whether you are on the receiving or giving end, whether it's a monthlong or decadelong romance, whether in hindsight it was the best relationship of your life or the worst, breaking up sucks. There's really no way to make it suck less, and there's unfortunately no way to avoid it. Unless you're a Duggar, maybe.

But with the constant flow of communication resulting from the ever-growing use and presence of devices, it seems that breaking up is getting harder and harder to do, and sucking more and more.

From having Facebook not-so-subtly shove it in your face that your ex is (already?!) in a new relationship, to checking obsessively to see if they've viewed your Snapchat story, to making sure your life appears more fun than theirs via Instagram, to god forbid stalking them on Find My Friends. Social media simultaneously makes it easier to stalk your ex, harder to hide if you're struggling post-breakup, and more competitive than ever when it comes to playing the who-got-over-who-quicker game. Yes, that's a thing.

And it's not just social media -- it's the ability to text, call or (desperate times call for desperate measures) email to contact an ex within 10 seconds. I would really like to see a study on how many texts sent past 11 pm involve former flings, and how many texts sent past 11 pm are regretted by 11 am the next morning.

Technology has changed a lot of things -- job searches, college applications, travel, doctor's appointments -- you name it. But I would argue that technology's impact on the relationships we form, and break, with each other is perhaps its most critical consequence. What do breakups look like in the 21st century? They look like the face of your ex in front of your face 24/7.

For a long time, I thought it was ridiculous when people removed ex's from their social media. Does it seem absolutely embarrassing and immature to de-friend an ex on Facebook, unfollow them on Instagram or block their texts and calls? Yes. But if you're struggling to get over a breakup, taking these measures is almost guaranteed to help. Growing up, we're told to take 'space' in situations like these -- but with instantaneous contact always looming, it's impossible to truly take the space we need. The extent to which technology bridges the gaps between people is a bit of a catch 22 -- it helps us connect with people whether we want to or not.

In navigating the emerging technological society, it is most important to remember that we are not passive participants -- we have the power, and the right, to opt-out of technology when we wish. It's not ridiculous, embarrassing or immature; it is in fact one of the most mature and empowering things we can do in a society filled with and often run by technological interconnectivity. We need to remind ourselves that technology does not control us, but that technology is there for us to choose to -- or choose not to -- use in the ways that will best serve us and our relationships with others.