Here is a great article where 200 teens from the Boston area gathered to discuss facebook breakup breakup etiquette.Â Parents now would be a great time to enroll your teen, pre-teen in an etiquette course.… just a thought.
Late last month, 200 teenagers from Boston-area schools gathered to discuss the minutia of Facebook breakup etiquette. Should you delete pictures of your ex after splitting up? Is it O.K. to unfriend your last girlfriend if you canâ€™t stop looking at her profile? And is it ever ethically defensible to change your relationship status to single without first notifying the person whose heart youâ€™re crushing?
These pressing adolescent questions were part of a one-day conference on â€œhealthy breakupsâ€ sponsored by the Boston Public Health Commission. â€œNo one talks to young people about this aspect of relationships,â€ Nicole Daley, one of the conference organizers, told me between breakout sessions as teenagers swarmed a nearby cotton-candy stand. â€œWeâ€™re here to change that.â€
Minutes later, 15 high-school students on a sugar high convened for a session on â€œcreating online boundaries.â€ The girls outnumbered the boys, and they didn’t hesitate to gang up on a charming â€” and, until then, immensely well liked â€” 17-year-old named Roberto, who proclaimed with a bit too much gusto that â€œracing to update your relationship status after a breakupâ€ is a healthy behavior. That was just one of a handful of scenarios the teenagers debated and placed into â€œhealthyâ€ or â€œunhealthyâ€ categories: others included â€œposting mean/embarrassing statuses about your exâ€ (unhealthy) and â€œrushing into a new â€˜Facebook officialâ€™ relationshipâ€ (understandable, but still not healthy).
â€œRoberto, youâ€™re really going to run all the way to your house after school to change your status?â€ a 16-year-old named Lazangie asked, shaking her head. She knows a thing or two about Facebook-related breakups: her last relationship ended, she said, because her ex-boyfriend couldn’t handle her male friends posting niceties on her wall.
â€œWhen Iâ€™m done with a relationship, Iâ€™m not going to wait a day, an hour or even 10 minutes to update my status,â€ Roberto told the group. â€œWhen itâ€™s over, itâ€™s over. Iâ€™m done with you.â€
â€œThe key word here is â€˜racing,â€™ â€ another girl replied with all the condescension she could muster. â€œIs that really healthy? Breaking up shouldnâ€™t be a competition!â€
The groupâ€™s adult facilitator â€” who wore a blue â€œFace It, Donâ€™t Facebook Itâ€ pin, in a reference to the apparently troubling trend of young people breaking up with one another via social media â€” nodded in agreement and suggested that Roberto consider taking a â€œtechnology timeoutâ€ the next time he felt compelled to race home and publicly declare his singlehood. Roberto reluctantly agreed to consider it.
Throughout the one-day meeting, organizers did their best to make the teenagers forget they were about to learn something. They were encouraged to freely use their cellphones (â€œWeâ€™re notâ€ â€” the kind of adults â€” â€œwho tell you not to use them!â€ an organizer boasted during the dayâ€™s opening session), and breakup-themed songs, like Kelly Clarksonâ€™s â€œSince U Been Gone,â€ blasted from the main conference roomâ€™s speakers. The pandering worked: I saw only one teen roll her eyes all day.
To help the youngsters envision what a healthy split might look like, pictures and videos of several celebrity couples who managed amicable breakups were projected onto a big screen. Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz, for example, were heralded as healthy because â€œtheyâ€™re still friends and were able to co-star in a movie together.â€ Their parting was juxtaposed with those of Kanye West and Amber Rose (West wrote a mean song about her) and Sammi and Ronnie from â€œJersey Shoreâ€ (Sammi supposedly defriended Ronnieâ€™s friends on her Facebook page), who each exhibited the kind of â€œunhealthyâ€ breakup behavior that the Boston Health Commission hopes Massachusetts young people will rise above.
In that pursuit, organizers encouraged the crowd to eschew parting ways over text message or Facebook, the most common teen breakup methods. (A bisexual 15-year-old confessed in a morning session that she learned that her girlfriend of two years had dumped her only when she changed her relationship status to single.) Attendees were advised â€” with mixed results â€” to bravely confront the awkwardness of face-to-face breakups. When the facilitator in a session titled â€œBreakups 101â€ suggested that teenagers meet with â€œand come to an agreement or mutual understandingâ€ with a soon-to-be ex, a skeptical 19-year-old nearly leapt out of her chair in protest. â€œSo, youâ€™re telling me that youâ€™re crying at night, youâ€™re not sleeping, youâ€™re eating all this food to make you feel better, and youâ€™re supposed to just come to an agreement?â€
That sounded like wishful thinking to at least one teenager, who insisted that dating in high school is for suckers. â€œWho needs the drama?â€ she said, adding that many peers choose friendships or casual sexual relationships over formal romantic ones. â€œIâ€™ve got enough problems without some stupid boy breaking up with me on Facebook.â€