Divorce, Social Media Style

Divorce, Social Media Style

By: Shelly Kramer
December 27, 2009

You laugh when you see the headline, but we are all only human (except for the bots and the spammers, that is) and, as such, we have spats, break up and, sometimes, we even get divorced. We not only get divorced from significant others, but sometimes we even get divorced from friends, co-workers, business partners or clients.

That was a big enough deal before the advent of the online world but now that so many of us live our lives online, it’s important to think about how we behave when we have a falling out with someone else or even, ultimately, get divorced.

Words last. Spoken words are long remembered, but written ones have an even longer life span. And on the Internet, words last forever.

I think it was the brouhaha involving @alohaarleen that made me realize how horribly damaging words could be, especially when circulating throughout the Twitterverse. I don’t know what exactly happened between Arleen and her ex-husband and, honestly, I don’t really care. I have enough on my own plate on a day-to-day basis that I have neither the time nor the inclination to be concerned about the alleged misdeeds of others. But, I do remember feeling shocked by the malevolence that was evident during that time period and can’t imagine how it must have felt to be the recipient of that.

My point is simple. Relationships happen. Relationships break up. That’s life. And we are all grown-ups. So we should act like grown-ups. And remember that the online world in which many of us choose to spend our professional and, often some of our personal time as well, is unforgiving. We should never forget to be very prudent, and careful about what we say, because what we say online is actually published. Written. Lasting. Permanent. Searchable. And with the potential to be very damaging, both to ourselves and to others.

You might read this and be thinking “Duh, that’s so simple, why would anyone ever need to write about it?” Well, I challenge you to stop and think – just for a minute. Have you ever said something to someone that you ultimately wished you would just reach out and grab back? Have you ever hit “send” on an email or a text and instantly regretted it, because it was something said in the heat of the moment that might, ultimately, damage a relationship forever? I know I have – on more than one occasion.

And the difference between doing that in email or a text message or even in a conversation is that those things typically happen between two people. My fab friend Diana Adams wrote a recent BitRebels post about spats that is amazingly insightful and I try and heed her advice regularly, on all matters, but especially this one.

And, as we all know, managing the interaction between two people is difficult enough, but when you bring the whole world into your life by interacting and engaging with others via social mediums, you open up a whole different can of worms.

So, indulge me. Trust that this occasional passionista knows what it’s like to say something that is regretted and the purpose of this post is as much a reminder to myself as it is to anyone else. Let’s all consider and respect the permanence of the online world that we inhabit and, as a result make sure we hesitate before diving into a pool that doesn’t allow us to hit the “do over” button. I know that I will try my hardest to do just that.

  • Good post, I totally agree with you Shelley. I find it terribly embarrassing, and usually unfollow or unfriend folks that subject me to their VERY personal lives.

  • At this point in my “evolution” I'd be a little suspicious of anyone without sufficient passion to have been carried away a few times in the past. Long timers will have material all the way back to usenet, and probably whatever came before that (before my time).

    Some people won't ever forget anything, and will always force others into a box. Best not to worry about it overmuch, and just carry on with it.

  • Some people conflate “oversharing” with “authenticity.” Lots of drama guarantees an audience. So does a train wreck. If you're not the one selling tickets, it's a waste of time.

  • Guilty as charged! but hey you live and you learn. Great post as usual. 🙂

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  • Thanks Chrissy. Easy to sometimes forget that letting our fingers do the talking is often a big, fat mistake 🙂 Thanks for the read – and the comment.

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  • Totally see your point, Dave. I’m not really talking about an occasional getting carried away – more about going overboard. That’s the thing I try and avoid. Thanks for the thoughts – appreciate it. And you’re right – carry on 🙂

  • LOL – isn’t that called “link baiting” … haha.

  • Shelly,
    This post is amazing. You are right and I agree with you 100%. Some of these comments below are very insightful too. It's amazing how much we are learning in this social media world where the rules are very similar to real life, but at the same time, very different. It's definitely tricky knowing where to step sometimes.
    Thank you for including a link to my article as well. You are so amazing and I value our friendship so much!

  • You said it, Miss Shelly. “We are all grown-ups. So we should act like grown-ups.” Social Media invites us to be personable, to be spontaneous, to be “real”. And we should. But boundaries are important everywhere — online and in real life. It may feel good to say something snarky at the moment. But as you point out, in the online world, it does not evaporate. Can't tell you how many times I've bitten my tongue and stayed offline until that desire to jab has passed. Even then, I've messed up a couple of times (only a couple, I'm sure).

    Which leads to Point #2: When wrong, promptly admit it. Learn from it. Work at not repeating it.

  • Shelly, once again, an amazing article. Like an email that can be taken out of context, social media allows for those brief moments of total lack of control to ruin a lifetime's reputation.

    Be wary of what ye post!

  • ShellyKramer

    Thanks Erroin. I truly wrote this post as much for myself as anything – it's sometimes just too easy to let your fingers do the “talking” and that, as we know, can get us in trouble. Happy New Year, friend!

  • ShellyKramer

    I love your Point #2, Kat … so true, and something that is often so difficult to do. Great reminder 🙂

  • ShellyKramer

    You're a true gem and I'm so fortunate to have found you in the crazy online world in which we inhabit. Your article was perfect, thanks for sharing it with me, and for being my mentor when I need one! I do so appreciate you and your wisdom. Mwah to you, my friend.

  • You are so right and I was going to write a blog post on this topic as well – though my title wouldn't have been as nearly as catchy as yours!

    Recently I was attacked publicly by someone and it was amazing at the outpouring of sympathetic DM's I received from people who had seen her public attack. When it happened I was ill-equipped for it and didn't want to be the first one to hit the block button.

    Even though many of these relationships are online and it can be easier to say things online that we would not say to someone's face we still have to remember that there are humans behind the avatars and as humans we have feelings.

    In my case it did end with a “divorce” and very shortly after her attack on me…her profile has disappeared.

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