This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Breakups, famously, are deeply unpleasant things. After the actual conversation, there are plenty of challenges you'll have to contend with before you get back to vaguely functioning and not constantly on the verge of tears: Previously happy memories now making you sad; songs you once loved becoming songs you resent; the very real feeling that you're going to die alone and be buried in an unmarked grave, visited by no one and forgotten by all.
And those are just the traditional, old-timey issues. With the advent of social media—and vicious subtweeting, cheerful "new start" Snapchats and Instagram posts of your former partner hanging out with someone who is essentially just a much hotter version of you—we now have to deal with a whole host of new hurdles, played out digitally and publicly for all our friends to see.
I spoke to some people about their worst experiences with social media post-breakup.
We met while we were working at a festival. He was 11 years older than me, working in the field I wanted to get into, so I thought he was cool. We got chatting, and started dating once we got back from the festival.
He ended up being too possessive and controlling, and I didn't want to be in a serious relationship, so it ended—which was when he started "accidentally" sending me Snapchat messages while he was out on dates with other women. He had never snapped me, so he was making a real point of showing me who he was with by sending videos directly to me, showing food, wine, and girls' cleavage. He would also pretend he didn't know who I was when I'd WhatsApp him, and he sent me the cringiest video I have ever seen of him miming along to this bitter song… I think it was "Loyal" by Chris Brown.
It was all just very petty and odd, especially considering I never actually wanted to be his girlfriend—but he was clearly very hurt by a 21-year-old me.
I was dating a guy who was away in the States for a bit, but when he came back to Berlin, I decided I was going to breakup with him. So we plan to get dinner, and I choreograph a beautiful and sweet, but firm way to end things—clean, tender, but thinking of self-preservation. So, at dinner, I explain that I don't think we should keep seeing each other: I can't offer him more than friendship at the moment. I'm too busy because "I've got to redo my website." Once our time is up, I walk him to his bus stop and leave him with a rigid hug, then go off to meet my friends.
On my way, I notice a new message on my phone that says, "R U OK??????" Yeah, I thought, Why? And then my friend asks what that Instagram post was about. "What Instagram post?" I say.
I check, and it turns out that while absentmindedly leaving my apartment to meet my now-ex, he had decided it was a good idea to post this Instagram for all the world to see:
I was in a relationship, but I went off to college and just got over it, so I broke up with him by email at 3 AM after a night out. I handled it terribly, so all in all when he wrote a diss song about me and then published it on YouTube and released it as part of an EP, it was entirely deserved. He also sent it around to our friends who he still saw, as he was younger than me and still in high school.
He wrote the song about how little respect he has for me and how I ruined everything. The EP cover was an acronym that spelled out my name! One of the friends who commented on it on Facebook—who was pretty much my best friend before I went to college—left a comment on it saying something like, "Fuck that bitch, you're so much better than her."
I don't think he, or she, knew I had found out about it, but still.
I was going out with a guy, but we split up and it went pretty badly. Basically, he tried to blackmail me into going back to a place where he was—in which I didn't feel safe—by threatening to tweet negative things about me if I didn't. He also secretly recorded me speaking—not shit about people, exactly, but kind of, and threatened to post it online. He did it by basically tricking me so that I'd talk shit about someone while he recorded stuff.
A while later, he sent me this really horrible, abusive email from his work email account, and in response—purely to fuck with him—I toyed with the idea of posting it online. He then posted a ton of shit about me on Twitter after we broke up.
I was engaged to this guy but just wasn't into it. I broke up with him in a very respectful way; I said, "You're really nice, but I'm massively gay and I need to pursue this," and canceled the wedding. Me being gay didn't have anything to do with him—except maybe a bit because the sex was shit.
Then I got a girlfriend like a week after telling him I didn't want to be in a relationship, and then, he started throwing shade.
He posted on Facebook about needing somewhere to live because he had turned his fiancée gay, and all of his friends piled in, like, "I knew she was a dyke," and, "She was always pulling girls in the pub when you weren't around." Basically, it was really funny that he was the last person to know I was gay. Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of VICE delivered to your inbox daily.
Follow Tom Usher on Twitter.