Netiquette – Relationships in the time of Social Media

When my dad cheated on, and then left my mother for another woman she went crazy.  Hearing about it put her on the edge and seeing it with her own eyes just pushed her off it.  I wonder though, how this scenario works during the time of social media.  Is there a certain etiquette that should be followed?  In 1986, it would have been far less visible.  If you were mutually a friend to both individuals, and you decided to keep in touch with both, obviously you could do so by phone, and if you decided to meet, it would be with one or the other, never both.  If you decided to make friends with the new partner of one or the other or both, it wouldn’t be so complicated.

How you make it work in a world where everything is out there on display via Facebook, Twitter and what have you?  And how does it work when you are one half of the couple that broke up? Depending on the breakup, your ex might or might not still be on your social media page.  In a scenario such as the one between my parents, they probably would not be. Then, you have the family. Do you stay friends with them or delete them? What if you truly like them? In my parents’ case, at the insistence of my lovely grandfather (and in accordance with Islamic law), my mother remained their daughter-in-law until the day they died.

After the family, there are the mutual friends to consider.  Even if you meet these people as someone’s partner, in time, hopefully, you would have built a friendship on your own merit.  At some point, one partner or another moves on and the new partner is introduced to the friends.  If it was a clean and peaceful breakup where the couple had become friends, this scenario would not be much of a problem.  The problem arises when there is a scenario like the one between my parents, and of course it depends on what the other person is like.  What if the new person who started seeing your ex before you ended was marking his or her territory all over social media pages of mutual friends?   What do you do then?  Are you meant to delete the mutual friends that you have?

Then, there are the photos.  Are you meant to delete the photos from the past? Yes, it’s all over and done with, but although this person might have hurt you, this is part of the past that has made you who you are today.  At some point in time, this person was a big part of your life.  In my case, I think if it was over for more than three months, it would be fine.  Worse still are the photos you will see of your ex with the new person.  Again I think this would depend on time.  Three months is acceptable.  If there was an overlap, it would probably be like rubbing salt to an open wound when you look at photos of parties that you can’t attend because your ex did and there are the photos of him or her with the new flame.

Social media was meant to make it easier but in a way, it has made it just a bit more complicated.  Apart from etiquette, there are always feelings to consider.  There are the feelings of the parties involved, the families involved, and the friends involved.  It depends on where you are looking at it from.  Sometimes you have built enough of a foundation based on mutual interests to keep your friendship going.  No matter how you met, sometimes, a friendship built over years is worth more than one person’s indiscretion.  What do you think?


2 thoughts on “Netiquette – Relationships in the time of Social Media

  1. You spoke my mind 🙂 What I did was remove my ex, kept the mutual friends that I’m close to, but unsuscribe from their updates if they were posting anything about my ex. And deleted the mutual ‘acquaintances’ that I’m not close to. Bottom line though, it’s YOUR life, and YOUR page. If there are people you don’t want to keep as facebook friends, don’t. Life is too short to worry about how 500 friends on facebook would feel. How many of those 500 are actually your real friends? 5? If you’re lucky, then, 10? So don’t sweat it and just do what you feel like.

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