Divorce, Internet Style – Written by Vicki Abelson

In the final stages of divorce, as we face the separation of property, finances and stuff, what do we do about our social networking? Who gets custody of the “friends” and the “followers?”

Four or so years ago, when my husband and I both joined Facebook, the strain of our union played out on our computer screens. We didn’t “friend” each other, keeping our networks separate, as we’d begun to do with so many things. There were innumerable red flags online that mirrored real life. Our “Relationship Status” for starters. I listed that I was married. My husband did not. “Interested in…” I left blank. My husband didn’t. Even though we weren’t “friends” (boy is that saying a mouthful), I took to snooping to see what he was up to. He was “interested” in women. And men. But, women, first. I never quite got over that. I don’t think he meant anything by it, but it seemed a disrespect. At least I perceived it that way. In response, I removed “Married” from my info (because I’m mature that way), not realizing that it would post on all of my friends’ newsfeeds. I was instantly deluged with, “What happened?” Little did they, or I, know at the time — a lot. I reposted “Married” later that day, but it never meant quite the same thing again. It didn’t cause the break-up, but it was definitely one of the supporting players.

Adding to my grievances, some of my husband’s real life friends, now co-mingled, began publicly judging my Facebook behavior — the amount of time I was devoting to it, and my tone. (Hey, that’s my mother’s job.) And, they were doing it on my Facebook. I’m working here, gentlemen! I no longer wanted to leave just him. They were a lot easier. He got full custody. I maintain occasional visitation.

Not long after discovering FB, my husband signed on to the Twitter. I didn’t get it and resisted. To me it seemed like the world’s largest circle jerk, everyone pleasuring themselves simultaneously, hands solo, while watching each other with bemused detachment. I preferred Facebook, which seemed more of a free-for-all orgy…wait.

The discord we were suffering in real life continued to be mirrored in our virtual one; our personalities reflected in our social networking styles. Herein, my testimony…I’m more a Facebook. Highly social, I enjoy interaction. I post a status and run the thread, much as I would host a cocktail party. He’s more a Twitter, crafting his words, and then presenting a finished product to the audience. Less interaction, more alone time. Kind of like us.

FB and me are like the rock nights I used to promote — a bunch of musicians jamming, inspiring each other, and making magic together. I tinkled my virtual “keys,” encouraged by the ever-responsive band of merry players. They showered me with the “like” my partner had ceased providing. He and Twitter, much like the monologues he constructed, are more like jazz — an eclectic group of artists doing their own thing at the same time, trying to impress and outdo one another. He wants to be “favored” for what he shares, but doesn’t want anyone to ask too many questions about what he doesn’t. He’s a mentalist, and is great at deflection. Oh, he’s mental, all right (too mean?).

We increasingly retreated to our cyber corners for support, rather than to each other. Facebook and I have a kind of puppy persona, constantly seeking love and validation. I’m needy. Sue me. No, please, don’t. The legal fees are killing me. Twitter and he, are more cat-like — loners preferring to be adored from a distance. He likes his space. Me, not so much. Houston, I think we have a problem.

Despite my disdain, eventually, I reluctantly cohabited, and starting Tweeting. To be viable, I had to. Largely, I felt invisible and unheard, much as I did in our kitchen. But, I got an enormous thrill when one of my tweets landed, or one of my dishes, praised. I’ve come to really dig the Twitter, the challenges and the small victories, and, the instant accessibility to everyone on the planet. Well, except Ryan Gosling, and my husband, Goddammit!

Now that we’re separated, do I want him to know my every thought, friend and flirt…I mean, follower? Because, of course, now he’s interested…and, do I really want to know his? What if I actually start…*gulp*…dating? What if he does, is…never mind that, I’d never know. Deflection, remember?

As we divide the assets, how do we divvy up this community property? What would be the equitable distribution? It would seem a no-brainer that he take his preferred Twitter and me my beloved Facebook, but, I’ve always loved a good challenge. It’s like “Vicki’s Choice.” Help!

After thoughtful consideration, the solution seems clear — like sharing our kids, we need to peacefully co-exist. Or, if that doesn’t work out, I’ll sic the bots on him, and block his ass!

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