Divorce in the Age of Twitter

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Editor’s note: Guest contributor Miles Beckett is the CEO and and co-Founder f EQAL, the media company that builds influencer networks around celebrities and brands. He was the co-creator of the original web video series lonelygirl15, and was previously a medical doctor.

Divorce.  It happens to the best of us.  As emotionally heart wrenching as it can be, it’s even worse now that we’re living out our lives on the public stages of Facebook, Twitter and the like.  If the recent very public separation of Ashton and Demi is any indication, it’s only going to get worse.  As a former physician, current internet entrepreneur, and ever-curious observer of the human condition, I’m fascinated by how the internet is broadly shaping our culture, and the day-to-day implications this has on our interpersonal relationships.

It used to be simple, our public lives and private lives were distinctly separated by physical boundaries.  It was really hard to bring public attention to our relationship status in the days before iPhones, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and most of us didn’t need to think about our “public image”, nor did many people care.  The closest historical analogues to Facebook and Twitter were the society pages in newspapers around the country, but those were only available to an elite class more comfortable with the concept of maintaining a carefully constructed public image.  Now we all have the ability to broadcast our lives, but many of us aren’t equipped with the tools to handle it.

It’s no surprise that there is a national fascination with celebrity relationships.  Just as with every other aspect of their lives, their marriages and divorces are a reflection of ours, and now more than ever we can learn from their successes and failures.  Like a giant tripping and falling with a massive BOOM!, when a celebrity makes a mistake on Twitter they crash and burn harder than us “regular people.”  Ashton and Demi provide a lesson for all of us, both their successes as early adopters of the medium, and their more recent breakdowns.

I’ve learned a lot of lessons about how to navigate a celebrity brand through both positive and negative PR.  I’ve also spent some time talking to everyday, non-famous people about how they managed their personal brand during their divorce.  There used to be another layer of privacy, but now relationships can become very public very quickly.  I found that everyone from my next door neighbor to a veteran entertainment publicist agree that we must now control our urges to make the private public unless we are prepared to live with the consequences.

With this in mind, here are my “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for managing your relationship, separation or divorce while living in the public eye:

Do

  1. Be open about your relationship status once it’s formalized and all loose ends are handled (it will become public whether you like it or not)
  2. “Hide” your ex from your Facebook feed and move them to “Limited Profile” (you need a little separation and privacy!)
  3. Show public civility between you and your ex (tagging them in photos or @replying them when appropriate is okay)
  4. Continue Tweeting and Facebooking once the divorce has happened (it’s important to confidently move forward with “business as usual”)
  5. Try to move on, have fun and share that with your friends and followers (everyone likes a winner)

Don’t

  1. Tweet, Facebook, ‘Booth, Batch, or ‘Gram scantily clad photos of yourself to anyone (they will be used against you…)
  2. Use a Twitter handle that incorporates your spouse’s name (@mrskutcher has a dilemma on her hands)
  3. Sell your ring on Craigslist (can we say, “tacky”?)
  4. Post nasty updates about your ex on Facebook and Twitter (no one likes a sore loser)
  5. Confide in your Twitter and Facebook audience before you confide in your significant other (no one likes a surprise)
  6. Un-friend or un-follow your ex (it’s public and nasty, just ask Kim or, um, Kris)

Bottom line:  Pause and think before you Tweet.

Image credit: Shutterstock/Teerasak