Culture Club

Finally, you don't have to see what your exes are up to on Facebook

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 8:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 November, 2015, 8:24pm

Social media today has become a platform for blatant self-promotion and advertising. But to billions of people in the world, it can be a field of emotional land mines, a bad dream that never seems to end.

Ironically, that is primarily down to many users allowing social media to play a major part in their lives – sharing thoughts in status updates, writing things on other people's walls, sharing news feeds, posting photos of friends and tagging them.

Then of course, there are people who have this thing for flaunting their very private affairs, posting photos of intimate moments with their boyfriend or girlfriend for all to see and shouting out loud to the world: "Hey, look at me and my sweet romance!"

It’s all well and good when the relationship is strong. But when things turn sour, what do you do?

Just last Thursday, the world’s largest social media platform launched a trial of a new tool to help you to get over a breakup and limit your exposure to your former boyfriend or girlfriend online.

According to Facebook, the new feature allows users to see less of your ex’s name, profile photo and status updates without you having to block or “unfriend” him or her – social media acts that many people regard as uncivilised or childish.

At the same time, what your ex can see on your Facebook is also limited – including photos, videos and status updates. You can even untag yourself from your ex’s previous posts without having to manually go through the painful digital decluttering process.

Facebook put the tool on trial in the United States and said it could be rolled out later, depending on users’ feedback.

It’s a big step forward for the networking platform to launch such a tool that meets the needs of some 1.5 billion users worldwide, including 4.4 million in Hong Kong.

Science says it is necessary to limit your exposure to your ex on social media after a breakup.

I accidentally came across this 2012 study conducted by Dr. Tara C. Marshall, from the psychology department at the school of social sciences in Brunel University in Uxbridge, Britain. Entitled Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with PostBreakup Recovery and Personal Growth, Marshall analysed data from 464 study participants about their online and offline contacts with their exes.

The survey found that staying as "friends" with an ex on social media such as Facebook -- receiving their status updates, being tagged in old photos etc – caused much "greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, longing for the ex-partner and lower personal growth".

"Overall, these findings suggest that exposure to an ex-partner through Facebook may obstruct the process of healing and moving on from a past relationship," the writer says.

So, science has said it, but to be able to activate this new Facebook tool, you need to change your relationship status.

This means you are supposed to have publicised your relationship status on Facebook to begin with.

Considering that social media today is no longer personal territory, it's never a good idea to post anything about your relationships on your social media accounts. Only immature people flaunt intimate relationships so openly.

But hiding and untagging yourself from old photos do not erase your history. What has happened has happened. The memories are yours and they stay with you until the day you die. Memories are private, and the only people you can share them with are those who were there to create these memories with you together.

Anyone who wasn't there need not know – and most certainly has no need to see them in old photos that pop up in their faces. Think of your prospective new partner(s), whose existence in your life is to create new memories. Your new dates don’t need to be reminded of your sweet memories of your ex every time they check out your wall. It's simply rude, disrespectful and inconsiderate of your current partner's feelings when you keep flaunting your dating history on your social media page.

At least Facebook understands this. Finally.