I just got broken up with . . . on FACEBOOK. Not even through a message or a poke, but the guy I was dating pretty seriously for the past few months and haven't been able to get a hold of since our last date (which I thought was great) just changed his status today to: "Single." How am I supposed to handle this? I have no idea what happened! - Dumped in cyberspace, 26, Chicago
Dear Dumped in Cyberspace,
Ouch. First let me say I am really sorry - getting dumped is hard enough, but having it happen to you via a community website really pours salt into the wound. Although this might not help much now, know that you are so much better off without this guy. Anyone who is so cowardly that they cannot give you the respect of a phone call is not worth crying too many tears over. Forget him. Delete his number from your phone and "unfriend" him immediately.
Try not to take this too personally - many of us have gotten really lazy in the interpersonal communication and etiquette department thanks to the advances of technology. The internet makes it conveniently possible to avoid uncomfortable face to face interactions or phone calls. But that doesn't make it right. I've heard from far too many twenty-something who have either gotten or given bad news via their computer or phone. It has to stop. We're all still human beings and owe each other the dignity of not taking the easy or lazy way out when it comes to a conversation that may be difficult.
I've recently been on the receiving end of this cowardly communication style as well. Last week, I was informed via a very impersonal email that a project I've been working on for the past year was being withdrawn. No phone call. No pleasantries. Being "old fashioned" I guess - I picked up the phone. No return call, but I did get another email. After some huffing and puffing, I eventually just decided to let it go. What's the point of trying to communicate with someone who is hiding behind a computer?
So I am offering you the advice I gave myself. Although you may, rightfully so, be upset about the news and the method in which it was delivered - you have to deal with the truth and move on. And make a commitment to be in integrity with regards to your own communication. The next time you find yourself tempted to avoid an interaction via technology, pick up the phone or set a meeting.
All of us are becoming far too reliant on our gadgets and starved for real human connection. To anyone reading who has been afflicted by or is an afflicter of cowardly cyber communication, take a stand for human connection! Say no to being asked out over text messages, instead of "poking" a friend you haven't talked to in a year, pick up the phone, walk down to your co-worker or bosses office if you have an important question or concern, and for Pete's sake if you ever have to deliver bad news to someone, don't type it.
Please send me your questions by posting them in the comments section below. You can also email me at email@example.com
Check back every Tuesday for more advice from Christine Hassler.