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June 17, 2011

Does Facebook hurt relationships?

Filed under: News — posted by Chris @ 8:36 am

From All Facebook:

Last year, more Facebook users changed their status to single than in a relationship — 24 percent versus 31 percent.

That juicy tidbit counts among many that lie in this infographic on how Facebook affects our relationships, rendered by our friends at Online Dating University.

Only three out of every five users show their relationship statuses at all, and such listings appear more frequently among Facebookers in the U.S., South Africa, Iceland, the U.K. and Canada.

Facebook and Relationships
Collaboration between All Facebook and Online Dating University

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November 3, 2010

Facebook data: spring breakup?

Filed under: Holiday, blogs — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:13 am

Well, it’s November 3. Are you, or have you ever been ditched by, a Halloweenie? Cindy Chupack once coined the term in order to designate (if BG recalls directly) folks who break up with their partners by October 31 in order to avoid (a) awkward family Thanksgiving dinners, and/or (b) buying gifts. (All while giving yourself plenty of time to find someone to smooch at New Year’s.) Boo!

But according to new (and highly imperfect, but still entertaining) data from Facebook (via Mashable), just because you made it through Halloween doesn’t mean you’re set for 2011. David McCandless and co.:

…scraped 10,000 status updates for the phrases “break up” and “broken up,” and made the following discoveries: 1). A ton of people break up before social occasions like Spring Break and the summer, 2). Mondays aren’t just the start of the work week — there’re the end of many a relationship, 3). People have the decency not to dump their significant others on Christmas Day.

Yah, but look at the graphic. While you’re safe on December 25, breakups appear to peak in the couple of weeks before, matching pre-spring break levels. If this is even somewhat accurate, I’m betting it’s not just about saving money on loot. It’s about the holidays feeling all cozy and meaningful and stuff. If you don’t feel cozy and meaningful with your S.O., you’re not going to look at them and feel all mistletoetastic. Forces the issue, in a way. You know? Fa la! What about you: any breakups precipitated by calendar events? (Or have you ever stayed together for the present, if you will?)

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June 22, 2010

Relationship status: Gutless

Filed under: Psychology, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:40 am

Would you break up over Facebook? Like, not by message, or by chat, or by going out to harvest Farmville artichokes and not coming back — but simply by changing your relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single”? Well, YOU wouldn’t, of course, but that guy/girl might: As Mashable.com reports, “a recent poll shows that one out of four newly dumped Facebook users found out about the breakup by seeing it publicly broadcast on Facebook. Ouch!” According to other survey data (1000 people, 70/30 men/women) from AreYouInterested:
– Around 21% of respondents said they would carry out a Facebook breakup by changing their status to single.
– Nearly 40% of respondents have updated their status on Facebook so the person they’re dating sees they have plans.
– And almost 35% of respondents have used their Facebook status to make someone think they have plans, even if they don’t.

The second two of the above sound mad manipulative, but — while I’m not applauding either — they’re not that different from what we did when had phones (get this) ONLY IN OUR HOMES and we could make people think we were NOT THERE by simply not answering. Haw! But the Facebook breakup? Of course this isn’t the first BG has heard of such a thing, and it is pretty much inevitable. (As one Mashable commenter noted, “Since a relationship isn’t official until it’s posted to Facebook, it must only be fair that a relationship isn’t officially over until it too is posted on Facebook.”) But PEOPLE. It’s pretty much the new-tech equivalent of breaking up by outgoing message. (”If this is Stan, it’s over. Everyone else, please wait for the tone.”) TACKY.

What do you think? Are electronic breakups of any kind ever acceptable? When might there be an ethical difference among Facebook breakups, text breakups, Second Life breakups? Think about it: Why, really, is an IM breakup, which seems despicable, that much worse than a phone breakup, say (which BG defends under certain circumstances, e.g. to prevent someone travelling across the country to see you only to have you say “See ya”)? Let us know in the comments.

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May 18, 2010

Does Facebook know when it’s over?

Filed under: blogs, media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:27 am

We all know that Facebook offers up-to-the-minute tracking of your (and everyone’s) relationship status. But could Facebook actually predict your breakup (and etc.) before it happens? It’s not psychic; nor, as science goes, is it rocket: remember, Facebook knows how and with whom you spend (or don’t spend) your virtual time. As the blog AllFacebook reports:

It’s an inside half-truth that many friends of Mark Zuckerberg have told me over the years: Facebook knows when a relationship is about to end. My response was to always ask more questions as it actually sounded like a legitimate possibility. In David Kirkpatrick’s soon to be released book, “The Facebook Effect“, Kirkpatrick confirms that relationship patterns were something that Mark Zuckerberg often toyed with.

In the book, Kirkpatrick writes:

As the service’s engineers built more and more tools that could uncover such insights, Zuckerberg sometimes amused himself by conducting experiments. For instance, he concluded that by examining friend relationships and communications patterns he could determine with about 33 percent accuracy who a user was going to be in a relationship with a week from now. To deduce this he studied who was looking which profiles, who your friends were friends with, and who was newly single, among other indicators.

Are you busy chatting with another girl instead of your girlfriend? Are you being tagged in a lot of photos with the same person? Facebook has a lot of information about who you are viewing regularly (or lusting over) as well as what your communication patterns are. While the company is not actively charting most users’ communication patterns for determining the future of your relationship, they are actively monitoring your behavior on the site to determine what should be displayed in the feed.

Of course, 33 percent, while impressive, is not scary accurate. And there’s a wide margin of error. Depending on how you use Facebook, for example, your lovah’s profile might be the one you look at least, given that you, you know, see them. (In fact, at least one expert says partners shouldn’t be “friends” in the first place. (“It’s a terrible idea for spouses to be Facebook friends with each other,” says Ian Kerner, Ph.D., co-author, with Heidi Raykeil, of [best self-help title EVER!] Love in the Time of Colic: The New Parents’ Guide to Getting It On Again. “Relationships are already filled with enough banality. I want to preserve what little mystery there is, which means I don’t need to see my wife’s latest check-in with her third-grade pals on her Superwall.”)

That said — though BG eschews unexamined anti-FB or “technology is eeevil” pile-on — we do know that, given its endless started-out-innocent opps for flirting and reconnecting with the one(s) who got away, Facebook can also = Homewreck. So it’s not like Facebook would need to uncrumple the receipts on your dresser to know what’s up.

And so, AllFacebook wonders, could there be an app for this?

Could you imagine using the site and then receiving a notification that the system has automatically determined that your relationship could be on thin ice? While it may provide useful to know, it would be extremely creepy to find out. For now, I wouldn’t expect to see any “relationship strength tool” integrated into the site, but it’s definitely interesting to know that it’s potentially something Facebook could project. Would you want to know how strong your relationship is based on your own Facebook behavior?

But here’s the real question:

Don’t you probably already know how strong it is without Facebook telling you?

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March 23, 2010

Teen girls: more to techno-life than sexting?

Filed under: media — posted by Breakup Girl @ 1:02 pm

Clearly, the grownups aren’t at all sure what to do about sexting. While legal scholars (rightly) ponder when, whether, and most importantly how to prosecute sexters, one Pennsylvania school/DA threatened kids suspected of sexting with child pornography charges unless they took part in an after-school program which, among other things, required girls to write essays on why their actions were wrong; the goal: to “gain an understanding of what it means to be a girl in today’s society.” Is it shaming in here, or is it just me? To be sure, sexting should be taken seriously (as harassment and abuse). But why do I suspect — perhaps cynically, yes — that this focus on “what it means” will not include a full exploration of the deep cultural factors that appropriate and contain girls’ sexuality and limit their worth and self-expression to “hotness”? (Maybe it will; I hope I’m wrong.)

But as theoreotical counterpoint — and to counter the oft-peddled image of teens doing nothing all day but re-watching Twilight, playing Kill Everyone, and forwarding around naked photos of the French exchange student, I offer this: a reminder of many of the positive and, dare I say, actually empowering, ways that girls use social media.

As eleventh-grader Nadia Tareen — as part of a video series on media issues called Girls Investigate, a joint project of The Women’s Media Center (WMC) and Girls Learn International®, Inc. — writes:

Adults are often too fast to condemn teenagers’ use of technology. We aren’t as “clueless about online threats as some adults believe – Two-thirds of the teens who have created profiles have used privacy controls to limit access to them.” Also, I suspect that my parents and teachers are unaware of everything that my peers and I accomplish online. For example, social media is a great tool for activism. As the leader of my school’s chapter of Girls Learn International®, Inc., I have found that e-mail and Facebook messages are invaluable for organizing and spreading awareness. Teenagers even use social media to make their dreams come true. As an avid YouTube-watcher, I can cite at least a dozen teenagers who posted videos of their musical and comedic talents on the website, to then be discovered by industry professionals. If social media is used intelligently, it can yield endless benefits.

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March 21, 2010

Facebook face-offs

Filed under: Psychology, media — posted by Kristine @ 8:41 pm

Age: 9.

City: Detroit, MI

Activities: Standing in a department store trying on school uniforms. Being adjusted in said uniform by my mother. Witnessing my first public fight as another mother yells at her son.

Quotations: From yelling mother – “Pants don’t fit you. You’re too fat. You should stop eating. Why can’t you be more like the other kids? My life is hard enough without having to come home and deal with your sorry %*@!

Status: I watch furtively, and then hide behind my mother. A silent thank you to the powers that be. My mother says something to the woman about being in public and embarrassing her child. The woman scoffs.

In the New York TimesI Need to Vent. Hello, Facebook, Skyler Hurt, 22, friend and bridesmaid to a feuding couple, likewise, intervened:

“Hey, you guys know we can still see this right …?”

Apparently, couples DO know their fights are being observed, and like the mother yelling in the store, they don’t care. In fact, as the Times article notes, some of them welcome the chance to publicly air their grievances for friends and family to see.

Michael Vincent Miller, psychologist and author of the book “Intimate Terrorism: The Crisis of Love in an Age of Disillusion” notes:

Today, popular representations of marriage tend toward “two very self-protective egos at war with one another,”…“each wanting vindication and to be right by showing that the other is wrong.”

The thing is, isn’t marriage about two individuals coming together as a couple? By using Facebook and other social media to gain “support” for their respective “sides” in an argument or disagreement, it feels more like they are keeping separate counsel and setting up camps to do battle. Additionally, when you ask your friends and family to constantly choose sides and what they see most is your Facebook status rather than your faces at the dinner table, that support each person is looking for individually can quickly turn into disapproval for the couple as a whole. [Plus: "Tacky!" -- BG]

Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia would agree.

“People tend to do better in their marriage when friends and family are supportive,” Mr. Wilcox said. “When that support dries up, that can be a really big problem.”

Additionally, in an era rife with passive aggressive forms of communication, from sites that allow you to anonymously tell your friends and family what you really think to others that allow you to virtually “slap” someone, one has to wonder exactly where we’re going. Are we really evolving as thinking and feeling human beings or is technology slowly unraveling us? Have we become a society where we are more comfortable interfacing virtually with our partners rather than speaking with them when they are sitting in front of us? Just as importantly, will couples venting their frustrations with each other in the new public spaces, as parents, do the same to their children? Will anyone say anything?

The accompanying photo was particularly powerful as one of the couples sits together on the couch, their faces aglow, not with love, but lit from the screens of their laptops. While the Victorian ideals of marriage are thankfully passé, the openness that modern couples should be striving for is openness with each other, not the World Wide Web.

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December 24, 2009

Cheating on Facebook is the new tawdry cliché

Filed under: News, pop culture — posted by Mia @ 10:48 am

Oh noes! Flirty messages from old flames are troubling enough to current spouses, but for some married people, the temptation of having all your old flames just a click away may be too much. Divorce attorneys are reporting now that at least 1 in 5 divorce petitions cite Facebook as proof of an affair or inappropriate behavior.

We get emails from people worried about IM and text messages from exes, which certainly isn’t new, so as easy as Facebook makes it to reconnect with old flames, it’s no surprise that those inclined to stray are finding it easier to do so with more people, more often.

“The most common reason seemed to be people having inappropriate sexual chats with people they were not supposed to,” says Mark Keenan, Managing Director of Divorce-Online, in the Telegraph UK article reporting these findings.

Some cheaters are flaunting their misbehavior, and even informing their jilted spouse of their impending divorce by updating their relationship status.

While I believe that it’s possible to be platonic, mutually respectful friends with exes, I can also empathize with those who really kinda hate Facebook. Hate how ghosts of nightmares past seem to come back from the grave complete with slutty profile picture and a comment for everything that’s said and done, and how “it’s just Facebook, it doesn’t matter” starts to sound pretty weak when every word has an audience of hundreds or thousands.

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September 10, 2009

Ode to oversharers

Filed under: Comedy, pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:58 am

Please enjoy — if not tweet — this APB about TMI from FOBG Rob Paravonian*:

* That’s him playing and singing on all the BG animation!

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August 11, 2009

1 Friend Request

Filed under: Comedy, Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 4:38 pm

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March 11, 2009

“Couple seeks couple for good time”

Filed under: News, Psychology — posted by Breakup Girl @ 12:04 pm

And by “good time,” they mean hiking, eco-activism, trading nerdy theories about “Lost.” Yes, Ryan Blitstein and his girlfriend/wingman have each other — and Facebook and MeetUp and CraigsList — but they also have solitary jobs in a relatively new city (Chicago), and, as Blitstein writes in a nice essay at Salon.com, they are also having a hard time making friends.

“My Facebook profile is bursting at the seams with hundreds of acquaintances, colleagues and contacts, many within walking distance. But I can count on one hand the number I’d even take out for a drink. So much for the brave new world of social networking,” Blitstein writes. “Until recently, I thought of myself as different, especially when it came to maintaining friendships with other men. I am not afraid to ask a guy out on a so-called man-date. I don’t need to use SportsCenter or an action movie or an indie rock show to overpower the supposed latent homoeroticism that some men attribute to one-on-one male socializing. I’m as comfortable talking about relationships with another dude as I am arguing about politics. But it seems the older I get, the harder it is to find new people to engage in these conversations.”

And: “There is a vast gulf between vaguely keeping in touch with someone and actually sharing, experiencing, exploring and all the other things you give and get and take from a close friendship. I find it increasingly difficult to cross over that gulf with those I’m meeting now. It’s a poignant thing to be a full-grown human and realize you’re deficient in something that seems so effortless for children.”

Blitstein’s essay is not an obvious broadside against the “alienation” of “technology,” yadda yadda. (I’d argue that the “connectedness” fostered by Facebook, while often superficial in one sense, still does the job of affirming one’s role in one’s own life story. High school! Camp! That crappy post-college internship! OMG! Hi hi hi!) But judging by many of the letters written in response, Blitstein and his girlfriend are not, so to speak, alone — and I think there is something new and modern, if not high-tech, about that. When we married much younger, skipping the seeking-our-fortunes/-selves segment of our twenties, we kept our high school and college friends because we’d graduated with them, like, last year. Now, like our phones, we’re mobile. There are more phases in our lives, more places to put down — and pull up — stakes. Makes sense to me.

What about you? Has making friends gotten harder for you as you get older? Might that also make it harder to make more-thans, too, given that “through friends” can be a romantic goldmine?

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