I would love to write that post-divorce I handled my online social media profiles with grace, restraint and dignity, but that it would be a total and utter fabrication. What I did instead was vomit my personal hell and torment over the internet, and was unapologetic about it. In some ways I regret it, but not completely as I was mad -- extremely mad at my husband who had been lying to me for years and living as a closeted homosexual. I had nine years of sacrifice and struggle to keep a relationship together that was ultimately a fraud at its core. The torrent of emotions was overdue and I had this new forum called... Facebook.
This type of social media is relatively new to everyone and correct Facebook etiquette, manners and rules haven't been firmly established. However I have learned quite a bit from my mistakes and I would love to share them. I didn't do everything on this list, but from my own and others' mistakes I have discovered the hard way how divorcees should -- and should not -- conduct themselves online.
1. Don't use your status updates to seek and destroy: Never post a status update hoping that your ex will see it, or as a direct attack against your ex -- they might see it, they might not, but you will just make most of your friends concerned with you and your mental health.
2. Remove old comments: Remove any and all loving, kind, or playful comments that you made on your ex's profile or photos. Comments such as "There is my sweetie!" or "I love my husband" can come back to haunt you when starting a new relationship. It can also cause problems for your ex and his new relationships. Basically it is confusing for everyone involved and if you can easily remove the comments, remove them.
3. Learn to love the block feature: If you are on horrible terms with your ex or your ex is using Facebook to attack you or taunt you personally... block him/her. When you block an ex they can't see you or anything you do on Facebook. They can't even see a comment you make on a mutual friend's wall or a photo. The only way they can see you on Facebook is if you appear in a photo of a mutual friend and the mutual friend is also in the photo. Otherwise you are invisible to them.
4. Don't look up their profile: Blocking them helps make this easy, but don't be tempted to look up your ex's profile. You are usually better off not knowing.
5. Don't assume it's about you: If you see something on an ex's profile that says something to the effect of, "I am so happy right now in my life I can't stand it," don't assume that your ex posted it there to piss you off. He or she may have, but you have to assume they are not using Facebook as a weapon of destruction. That is why the block feature is so handy.
6. Don't use friends walls for your grief: If you are going to vent, use your own wall to do so. Or better yet, think twice and don't post!
7. Don't create fake accounts to spy: I never did this, but I know people who have. Sometimes I think there might be a good reason, especially if you have children with your ex or some other type of pending legal matter. But when you have to create phony profiles to see what is up, you are entering place called crazytown.
8. Don't broadcast new relationships: There is nothing wrong with changing your relationship status, however I made the mistake while rebounding of putting too much out there about my new and short-lived relationships. There is nothing like telling the universe "I found love again!" but you may not get what you are hoping for. You can scare off the new partner, start a war with your ex, and is it really worth it?
9. Beware of Twitter: Don't follow your ex on Twitter unless you have children together. Also don't look at their tweets and if you can, lock your own account so that your ex needs permission to see your tweets. Be discreet about what you put on Twitter; if you have friends in common your ex may know everything you are writing.
10. Shut down your Facebook account temporarily or delete it entirely: Facebook allows you to shut down your account for as long as you want and start it up again with the same friends and contacts. I did this on multiple occasions to give myself a break and I found it somewhat wonderful.
You are bound to be slightly insane after a divorce, and you are better off not making matters worse by publicly pulling everyone else into your drama. Easier said then done, but you will get through it. Eventually social media will just be another way to talk to friends from high school, not a way to exorcise your demons. Things will get normal again; it just takes time.
Follow Juliet Jeske on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JulietJeske