Monday, May 5, 2014

hai ... i want 2 c other ppl: Dumping via Tech

A friend of mine recently contacted me to tell me one of those "omg" stories (you know the ones, the stories that begin, "OMG you won't believe what just happened!). It just so turns out that he randomly ran into another friend of ours and had the unfortunate experience of watching our mutal friend get dumped via text.

Now this story will probably sound familar to a few of my friends reading this, so let me assure you now; I am talking about you and I am not. This same story has happened multiple times, in various locations and implemented by both genders. Yet, almost everyone I know and all of the forums I checked in research for this post agree that dumping via text, or any other electronic means, is unequivically unexceptable - with a few very specific exceptions that generally relate to ideas of safety or if the relationship in less than a month long. Still this happens. 

The question I was originally planning to ask for this post was why do people dump their SOs via tech if this is such an evil thing to do, but in light of how often it seems to be happening as of late I am starting to wonder why people find something so common so contemptable. 

On a personal level I have been involved in tech dumps 2.5 times. I have dumped and been dumped via Skype (that's 2) and I once watched as a guest in my house was dumped via text (that's .5). Both of the Skype dumpings were long distance relationships that extensively used Skype as our modus operendi. In both of those cases meeting in person to end the relationship was simply not feasible as it would have cost a couple of thousand dollars that neither of us had to spare. In the text case, the couple involved actually lived together, so why that happened via text ... I have no idea. 

The first of these was the guest in my house. It was surreal. He didn't read the texts aloud as this was happening, but the rest of us watched it on his face. We knew something was wrong and getting worse every time his phone vibrated. His hands became more and more frantic with every response he typed out. 

The second was the time I dumped my boyfriend of 6 years via Skype. I was in Taiwan. He was in America. Everyone, including friends and family, blasted me for this, but when asked, none of them could suggest a better alternative.

The third was the time i was dumped via Skype. By this point I wasn't phased. He was in China and I was in America. I had been on the other side of this same equation before and so I thought nothing of the fact that it happened over Skype. A couple of people commented on this, but when I declared that the Skype factor hadn't botherd me they dropped it. 

The people who blasted me mostly said the same types of things I read online. That dumping via tech is cowardly, heartless, and disrespectful. This is of course conventional wisdom, and while i can see some of the logic in it, I am starting to question it the more I think about "respectable" dumping scenarios. The consensus seems to be that people deserve a face-to-face confrontation, but how much of people's relationships are actually face-to-face? Seriously, how much? 

People seem to be working more and more and making less and less leaving little time or money for irl encounters. Facebook, Skype, and texting are crucial to relationships of all sorts, and this is before turning to dating websites. Even when people manage to get out the door and see other people, many are so used to tech mediated communication that they use it any way. There is a trend I've noticed over the last year (maybe it's been longer, but I was out of the country before that) in which I meet up with a guy somewhere, either he just met me there or we arranged to meet there, and we chat, hang out, and then go our separate ways. Within an hour of me leaving for home I will get a text from the guy with some squishy compliment that makes me squee. This isn't a complaint, mind you, I like this. I bring it up because it begs the question of why ending a relationship gets prioritized over any other part of it. People meet, date, and screw via tech and that's ok, but if you dump someone via tech after that, you are an asshole.

Interestingly, I wrote most of this post in a geek bar surrounded by highly (digitally) connected people. I questioned a few people as I wrote and the replies were mostly the same, other than one brilliant outlier - it's not as bad as having a friend text the break up for you - give it another layer of removal, that'll help - hey, um, Jimmy doesn't want to see you anymore, but I'm free later, margaritas?

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