We’ve all heard the horror stories. You’re all loved up and full of the joys of spring. Your phone beeps. You gleefully open your inbox, expecting another kiss-filled missive from your other half, and there it is: the SMS which says ‘sorry. You’re dumped’.
Or it might be an email. A Facebook update. Or – horror of horrors – a tweet. Yes, there are people out there whose relationships have actually been ended in less than 140 characters. Could it be that the digital Dear John is now an acceptable way to say ‘it’s over’?
The figures are pretty astonishing. Earlier this year Reuters reported that ‘digital dumping is on the rise’, with a third of respondents to a poll – yes a THIRD -confessing that they had dumped someone by email. 13 per cent had changed their Facebook status to announce their new found singledom (that old chestnut), while a shocking six per cent broke the news on Twitter. And the trend has supposedly hit celeb-land – Ashley Cole, Lindsay Lohan, K-Fed and Jennifer Aniston have all reportedly been dumped by text.
Don’t know what to say? Don’t worry. This website will even craft a breakup email for you (and my, once you’ve sent one of these you can guarantee the ex won’t be coming back). Sure, it’s easier – and quicker – than having the awkward conversation face-to-face. But if you’re thinking about writing the message yourself, be careful – and rewind to this cyber scandal of 2003 to recall just how out of control a person can get once they’re in front of a keyboard.
And that’s the problem. Technology is amazing. But it can take us out of the real world, and sometimes – due to ineptitude, thoughtlessness or bravado – it helps us say and do things that we just wouldn’t do in real life. Just think of all the people whose reputations have been damaged thanks to inappropriate Twitter outbursts (Labour candidate Stuart MacLennon, Union boss Derek Simpson, the list is long and distinguished).
And, in real life, we wouldn’t go round to our other half’s house, open the door, shout ‘I’M LEAVING YOU’ and then run away. Which is, effectively, what the digital dump amounts to. And so, as tech etiquette becomes ever more sophisticated, perhaps we’ll realise that there are some conversations that simply have to happen offline.
While, writing this article, I remembered – I once got dumped by text, actually. It was fine though. I didn’t like him anyway.