THE BLOG

Breaking Up, Digital Style: Learning to Forget

12/06/2012 01:09 pm ET | Updated Feb 05, 2013

Last week Huffpost Tech Editor Bianca Bosker wrote about a friend of hers who flaked, two years in a row, on her birthday party. Peeved, she went through old text messages to prove to her friend that her behavioral patterns were being noticed. Noticed, and recorded.

Recording has become the new living. In a popular parody by College Humor, the social networking photo site Instagram (bought by Facebook for a cool one billion) lambasted, primarily because taking photos, tweeting, Facebooking, emailing and texting, has taken the place of living.

We are so obsessed with documenting our lives that sometimes we forget to live them.

Sure, there are positives to our constant need to record. Only some of us have memories like steel traps, others can't remember what we ate for breakfast. I certainly fall in the elephant category, yet in our day and age I know about three phone numbers of close friends.

We don't know many friends' birthdays (Facebook does that for us -- guilty), phone numbers (gone are the days I'd come home from school and use something known as a "landline,") we don't remember much because we have technology that does it for us.

But what happens when we want to forget something? Someone? A memory? What happens when we try to erase a time and a place and a person from our lives?

Now it's almost impossible.

I'm referring to relationships, especially romantic ones. Breakups are especially painful -- even in friendship and business. Maybe you didn't want the same things out of life, you couldn't make it work, a friend stood you up too many times or wasn't there for you when it mattered, a business partnership ended in shambles. It's now impossible to scrub the remnants when we want to, for our own well being and piece of mind.

The physical is easy -- classic removal of pictures, presents, flower petals from anniversaries, friendship bracelets. You can put them in a drawer or box and shove it far into the back of your closet or recesses of your mind. Photos used to be the highlight reel of your life and your relationship that you could just stop looking at and only remember their existence when you were doing Spring cleaning.

How are you supposed to break up digitally?

Social media is a continual highlight reel of your life with someone else and sometimes that makes it hurt more. It's in a better font or a prettier filter, so that even when you romanticized what you had it literally looks rose-colored.

First there are the emails.

The daily back and forth over new restaurants, decisions about a potential vacation, thoughts on a pair of shoes that you will eventually deem hideous and convince him to wait until you're in person because shoes should be tried on.

Or the chats -- funny, random, stupid videos that now mean something beyond their comedic value. Thousands upon thousands. So what do you do? Save them? Put them in the drawer with the photos? Comb through and delete, then permanently delete.

Then you have the demon of Facebook. Unhooking your names if they were linked together to be splayed across the feed of everyone you ever knew, no matter how hard you try. Detagging photos now has become harder than thirteen really confusing CAPTCHAs. Facebook has even instated couples pages, and there are tools to know when you are defriended or blocked. You still see photos through mutual friends, however.

You're forced to look at evidence of you, because you recorded it everywhere.

Instagrams and Twitter can be even more trying. Funnily enough, these mediums, besides Facebook, allow you to block someone but not remove their feed from YOUR sight. They'd have to block you. This digital footprint of every kiss (a mutual swipe on the new buzzed about couples-only networking site Pair), party, smile into each other's eyes, makes forgetting even harder and more painful.

There is no doubt that these mediums make memories more vivid, but nobody is putting a fight in X-Pro.