According to a trend piece in the New York Times last week, gone are the days when getting through a breakup meant putting everything that reminded you of your ex–in Beyonce’s words–“in a box to the left.” These days, we need a sophisticated series of apps to scrub our lives of former loves:
In a digital age, getting rid of memories isn’t that easy. Being connected to so many people across a web of overlapping social networks means that “defriending” or “unfollowing” people rarely removes them completely from your virtual world.
Amidst the necessary references to Girls and texting are some interesting anecdotes about a handful of apps aimed at helping users disengage from relationships. For example, there’s Kill Switch (tagline: Making Break Ups Suck Less), which removes every mention of a target ex from your Facebook page. “Social Media intends to reflect many aspects of the human experience, [but] it doesn’t yet easily reflect that key element–the end of relationships,” write the designers. “It’s not a vindictive tool, it’s part of a healing process, an assertion of independence, and getting closer to what’s right for you after discovering what wasn’t.” Sounds healthy, no?
Then there are sillier examples, like Ex-Lover Blocker, which sends a text to your friends if you’re about to contact an ex, then shames you with a Facebook post if you go through with it. It’s a funny concept (it was developed by a Brazilian soft drink company, after all), but it’s just real enough to be a little depressing. It doesn’t help that the app is aimed primarily at men who, apparently, have zero self-control.
Still, it’s interesting to imagine how social media will change as its core users grow up. In the same way no one imagined a use case for the death of a Facebook user, few of us care to imagine the unsavory scenario of breaking up with the person you’ve posted about for years. I wonder if there’s some middle ground to be found with an app that doesn’t delete every single memory but shuffles them into a more manageable package, available when the pain inevitably dulls?
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