Why Twitter is not the best place to break-up with somebody
This week Ben and Kate Rothschild in the UK have been having a fairly public break-up on Twitter. It has been both intriguing and disturbing to watch as a very personal and no doubt very painful period for all concerned was played out in the public domain. Thankfully they have now announced they are to play out the rest of their break-up and divorce in private. Probably the best place for this kind of conversation. Whether it is celebrities or just our own friends, we have all seen couples break-up through social media. But it really isn’t the best place to do this – either emotionally or practically.
It is clear to any of us who have witnessed friends break-up via social media that some conversations are best kept private. 140 characters are really not enough to express more complex arguments and disagreements, and it is easy to misinterpret what people really mean. Even more so when emotions are running high. What should be a discussion or disagreement between two people does not benefit from being played out in public, and those witnessing it often feel the uncomfortable nature of what they are seeing.
But if these emotional reasons weren’t enough to put people off exposing themselves on Twitter in this way, there are some very practical reasons they shouldn’t.
Twitter is of course a public community. People can see everything you share and so you need to think carefully and clearly about what you share, with whom and why. We are growing into a new world of privacy and responsibility for our own data. We need to take ownership of what we share where. In normal times and even more so in extremis.
The information you share on Twitter can be a useful tool in a break-up or divorce. Why was he there at that time? Why was that man in the picture with her? Why are her Tweets coming from a different part of town to where she told me she would be. Our digital and social footprints leave information that can fuel the fire of a break-up. And that can even be useful in divorce proceedings.
So breaking-up on Twitter is not so much hard to do as ill advised. As we use more social tools we need to take more ownership and responsibility for our own privacy. We need to know what we are sharing, with whom and when. And we need to know the implications of this.