Law in Popular Culture

ATL Blogger Feels Pain of Breakup in Digital Age

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Breaking up can be more difficult than ever in the age of social networking.

Just ask Above the Law blogger Kashmir Hill. She told the New York Times about the time she logged into a former boyfriend’s e-mail account, using a password he had shared with her. She read an e-mail the man had written to his mother that explained why he was no longer in love.

Hill also shared an online bank account with her former boyfriend, but closed it once the balance reached $10.

“It’s enough to get rejected in real life,” Hill said, according to the Times account. “But does it have to happen so often in my online world too? It makes me want to keep my digital life separate in future relationships, whomever they are with.”

Hill later questioned whether she said exactly those words in a True/Slant post, but did agree that “having a digital trail can make the heartache last longer.” Hill said she thought she was being interviewed as a privacy expert, but agreed to relate some personal experiences—and now she wishes she hadn’t.

The Times story suggests “a new dating order” has emerged in the new digital age, where couples share online passwords and information, and their courtship is aired on social networking sites. But the online intimacy is changing the world of breakups too.

“Where once a spurned lover could use scissors (literally) to cut an ex out of the picture, digital images of the smiling couple in happier days abound on the Web and are difficult to delete,” the story says. “Status updates and tweets have a way of wending their way back to scorned exes, thanks to the interconnectedness of social media. And breakups, awkward and drawn-out in person, are even more so online as details are parsed by the curious, their faces pressed against the digital glass.”

Atlanta family law practitioner Randall Kessler noted the problems. He told the Times he advises divorcing clients to change their passwords or to otherwise secure online materials. He also tells them to stop posting on social networking sites.

Hill says she will be more careful now about sharing passwords, and credits an Above the Law commenter for her new dating rule: No ring, no passwords.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

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