Looking back on my high school days, I recall when my friends broke up with their girlfriends and that was usually the end of the story. Sure, there were the ‘he did this’ and ‘she said this’ which sometimes boiled over in shouting matches in school hallways, but that was usually it. These days though, break-ups have taken a nasty turn and can become relentless and ongoing on platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Since these tools are part of the post-separation period, here are some suggestions on how to use social media after a break-up.
The muting strategy is utilized best when one doesn’t want to hurt the feelings of an ex by un-friending them. When you mute someone’s Twitter account, their tweets won’t show up on your timeline and they won’t be aware of it (Pulley, 2019). One can always un-mute the person at any time afterwards. Muting works in a similar manner on Instagram by not allowing posts to populate a feed, again without a person being alerted (Ghoshal, 2018). This can also be done to people who are just generally annoying, constantly posting material and you just don’t want to unfollow them. Facebook gives users the same option of unfollowing someone, but also provides the opportunity to snooze posts (remove temporarily) for 30 days (Salinas, 2017).
This technique can be utilized as a last resort for those that are persistent with their messages and posts after a break-up, which can eventually become harassing in nature. When you block someone on Facebook, it essentially un-friends them. They won’t be able to see your posts, be invited to events, start a private conversation or be added as a friend (DiNuzzo, 2019). While muting on Twitter allows users to still tweet at you, blocking completely removes any form of engagement that they may have with your account (Jackson, 2018). Similarly, when a person is blocked on Instagram, he or she won’ t be able to see your profile, posts or stories and they won’t be alerted of this change (Instagram, 2020). Instagram has recently added a ‘restrict’ feature, which prevents a user from knowing when you’re online.
Unfortunately, in today’s world breaking up doesn’t end in person. It carries into the digital space, meandering through a web of social media applications. Making matters even more complicated is the fact that mutual friends are often intertwined in this web. However, most platforms usually provide a method of blocking someone undesired or limiting their activity on your account. If matters do become threatening and harassing in nature, one should never hesitate to call the authorities. Do you think it’s more difficult to break-up with someone as a result of social media?