Social Media after a break-up: Yes or no?

In this social media era, avoiding an ex can be almost impossible. Photo Illustration by MJ Routh

By Harry Rowe | Staff Writer

Seventy-seven percent of Americans reported having at least one social media profile, up from 10 percent in 2008, according to Statista. Social media has engrained itself in pop-culture, memes and slang and viral trends sweep over our digital society constantly.

For many young people today, the social media of their choice is just part of their life. That’s why when breakups occur in the age of social media, it can be hard to avoid someone that once meant so much to you.

Amanda Smith, a licensed therapist who works with clients in Waco, said even if the relationship ended on good terms, someone should strongly avoid reopening wounds by looking at old pictures of their ex.

“When there’s been a breakup, I think that it can be extraordinarily painful to be connected through social media accounts,” Smith said. “Every time we see a new status update or photo, we’re reminded about that the relationship has ended. Even if the relationship has ended on a positive note, seeing that person’s name pop up unexpectedly can be difficult.”

In the era of instant messaging, all it takes is a couple seconds to text them, send them a message on social media or just go through their profile. Dr. David Pooler, associate dean for academic affairs at Baylor’s School of Social Work, said even though it is important to not over indulge in social media after a breakup, it is important to not stop usage completely.

“If someone is already using social media, avoiding it after a breakup is probably not wise. Living in reality and exposing oneself to the difficulties of reality are important and are part of healing. Avoidance of reality only prolongs a grief process. Moderate use of social media is probably okay, but one may need support from friends to grieve and cope and be accountable for how they are using social media,” Pooler said. “I think if someone is compulsively checking social media after a breakup that can be hurtful to them. Being gentle and loving with yourself after a breakup will likely involve moderate use of social media and avoiding the compulsive use of it.”

For some young people dealing with breakups on social media, it can be tough to decide whether to delete pictures of their ex on their profiles, according to Samantha Burns, a relationship counselor, dating coach, and author. Depending on the length of the relationship, there could be dozens of photos of the couple together on both people’s pages. This can lead to the question of if the photos should be deleted or not and if it only hurts to preserve the memories. According to Burns, It can be a balancing act deciding whether the photos will bring more pain or joy long term, but if the relationship was meaningful and a major part of someone’s life, it may be important to give the thought some time.

“Though you may want to vaporize your ex and pretend they don’t exist, the reality is that they were an important and meaningful part of your life,” Burns told Elite Daily. “Consider saving all of your couples photos to a flash drive and storing it out of sight and out of mind, or give it to a friend for safe keeping until you feel prepared to view them again.”