Back in my day, you took a girl out to dinner, then you brought her home and broke up with her in front of her parents. Then you had to let her dad give you a paddling. And then you had to walk home—uphill!—in the snow, even if it wasn’t snowing, fight off a pack of rabid dogs, and eat five bars of used soap.
That’s the type of reaction we’re expecting to hear from some readers of the latest New York Times Magazine piece from our founding editor, Benoit Denizet-Lewis. Benoit travelled to a “healthy breakup” conference run by the Boston Public Health Comission. The conference hosted 200 Boston-area teenagers, who were schooled, by instructors wearing “Face It, Don’t Facebook It” pins, on proper and healthy breakup etiquette.
Minutes later, 15 high-school students on a sugar high convened for a session on “creating online boundaries.” The girls outnumbered the boys, and they didn’t hesitate to gang up on a charming — and, until then, immensely well liked — 17-year-old named Roberto, who proclaimed with a bit too much gusto that “racing to update your relationship status after a breakup” is a healthy behavior. That was just one of a handful of scenarios the teenagers debated and placed into “healthy” or “unhealthy” categories: others included “posting mean/embarrassing statuses about your ex” (unhealthy) and “rushing into a new ‘Facebook official’ relationship” (understandable, but still not healthy).
“Roberto, you’re really going to run all the way to your house after school to change your status?” 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.
“When I’m done with a relationship, I’m not going to wait a day, an hour or even 10 minutes to update my status,” Roberto told the group. “When it’s over, it’s over. I’m done with you.”
“The key word here is ‘racing,’ ” another girl replied with all the condescension she could muster. “Is that really healthy? Breaking up shouldn’t be a competition!”
Have your kids ever broken up with someone over Facebook? Have you? Let us know in the comments.