Dumped on Facebook; When Your Breakup Goes Law Firm Viral

[Ed. Note: The following is again from Gianna Scatchell, the blogger behind LegallyNoted.com]

In this modern technology age, the new normal is to live a version of your life online.  But in doing so, you’re forced to digitally declare your personal relationships—romantic or otherwise.

Will you be my Friend?  Who do you follow?  Who follows you?  OMG, we’re on the same Evite—how do you know XYZ?  Are you LinkedIn?

It’s no secret that managing your internet reputation can be a fulltime job onto itself.  Likewise, it’s next to impossible to keep your “Friends” and law firm coworkers from not blurring together in one, big online melting pot.

With the advent of Facebook, an important relationship milestone is when you officially change your relationship status from “Single” to “In a Relationship with….” When you’re “all loved up,” you never pause to think about what happens if that relationship goes sour.  That bliss you feel as you receive a flood of comments from FB well-wishers creates a false sense of security.  And, eventually, the antithetical feeling ensues when you have to change your status back to “Single” and send it out drifting through hundreds of News Feeds.

Breakups suck.  And now days, when you’re at your most emotional and vulnerable, it seems to be a race between you and your ex to shout your shattered union’s finality from the digital rooftop.  This action is the equivalent to setting up flares at an accident scene.  Although it’s an embarrassing process, generally your close family and friends already know your back on the market.  So while it’s a cold knife to your soul to see your declaration of reclaimed singledom blatantly posted next to an insulting, sterile, heart-shaped icon, it’s no real surprise to those people who actually care about you.

However, that doesn’t include the countless distant relatives and former high school classmates you never see or talk to who are now privy to the same info.  Alas!  The floodgates are opened, and all of the sudden your 65-year-old Aunt Donna is telling you on your Wall that “You’re a catch, you’ll find that special someone.” Or a do-gooding acquaintance splashes a series of acronyms and punctuation marks in the comments section.  “OMG!!!!  WTF!?!?!?!  Deets!  No bf?!?!?!” Or a dark person from high school sends you a link to your nearest PAWS to adopt a cat because you’re inevitably going to dry up and rot…alone.

But what does that matter?  You never talk to or see them anyway.  Right?

That’s when you realize you’ve made the grave mistake of accepting Friend Requests from coworkers at your law firm.  You knew it was a bad idea at the time, but you felt more awkward not accepting.  After all, you see them in the halls everyday.  But it isn’t until this very moment that you realize your passive willingness to let the law firm vultures into your sanctum will ruin you.  Your fellow associates, most of whom you haven’t talked to since working together on a deal in the aughts, are all reading about your breakup—and you’ve instantly chummed the shark-filled waters.  You notice secretaries whispering and can practically taste the in-office Schadenfreude.

What’s even worse than this?  The fact that when you get dumped on Facebook, you don’t even get a say!  All a person does is uncheck a box and POOF—your entire relationship vanishes in one click.  Your coworker “Friends” know nothing more.  No self-defense.  No way to address it without seeming desperate.  No chance to explain that it was mutual and not a total Sandra Bullock/Jesse James/Michelle ‘Bombshell’ McGee situation.

This very thing happened to my good girlfriend, a fellow attorney.  When she was mid-fight on her way to a weeklong client visit, her boyfriend decided he didn’t appreciate her uncannily accurate synopsis of him being a “self-centered bastard.” So with the swift click of a mouse, BAMM—she was single and de-Friended.  No second chances.  No explanation.  She landed to a BlackBerry full of emails from coworkers expressing thinly veiled concern.

What makes Facebook breakups so bad is that they are real time, interactive and sans privatization.  They are, at the very least, worth a negligent infliction of emotional distress suit.  They invade your workspace and your career.  In an instant, the gossip hounds have some new, salacious material that will leave your ears ringing—until you become old [Facebook] news.  And you have no one to blame for word getting out but yourself.  And maybe Mark Zuckerberg.

Since it seems to be happening to a growing number of people everyday, here are my suggestions for ways to make Facebook breakups more humane:

1.  Mandatory cooling-off period.

2.  Chance for the other party to tell his/her story—after all, there are two sides!

3.  Public notification must be approved by both parties.

4.  Including an explanation box.  When you cancel your subscription to something, they ask “Reason for Cancelling?” The least FB could do is put a “Reason for break-up?” field for notations.

5.  An email notification alert if this happens to you.  You receive emails like a “suggestion” from your third cousin, twice removed to join the Ingrown Toenails fan page (yes, it exists!) or an invitation to be a Sheep on someone’s Farmville Farm, yet you are left in the dark about your Facebook relationship status.  A notification would at least soften the blow and allow you to craft your PR response.

6.  Or this lovers’ dilemma could be avoided altogether by never adding a relationship status to your profile in the first place.

Something to ponder.

At least there’s Facebook to stalk your ex’s new flame.

Read Gianna’s other posts, such as “Ten Ways for Women NOT to Get Sex in Law School” and Law School Exposé: How Leggings Made Me Fat.

Got a Bitter Rant of your own?  Email it to.

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  • Bitter Overseas

    Or, avoid Facebook altogether.

  • Guano Dubango

    Is there a page on Facebook for good looking women lawyers who have just been dumped and who are looking for a hard-working lawyer with a US LLM who would be interested in a lasting relationship?  If so, I will sign up for this Facebook website.  How is it that lawyers go about signing up?  I recently met a woman, took her out for an expensive meat dinner, but there was no spark that caused us to start a relationship.  This I understand happens, but I want something that will get me some success.

  • BL1Y

    Don’t add people from work, and don’ add people you’re dating.  Come on, this is just common sense.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPG3YMcSvzo

  • Craig

    It seems like all of this girl’s articles are written by a 13 year old girl trying to act all growns up.  I am not a women, but none of them ring true at all.  It is like they are written by someone who never really went through any of this but thinks it goes down like this.  Whatever.  I guess you need someone to write for the site daily.

  • Son of Guano

    I agree with Craig: what is this site now?  Tiger Beat for lawyers?  What happened to the suggested “TellBitter” column from anxious ssociates in law firms. Christ, I cold go to a bar and learn more firm gossip than I see here.  How do you think the American lawyer got started? (PS: Dad–I left a response for you on the “Slut” column about your Alma fixation. You really need to get over her. She’s probably in her 40’s, definitely weird, and probably wrapped in a Snuggy with potato chip crumbs all over it. ).

  • Schadenfreude

    @Craig- That comment looks like it was written by a 13 year old. Who failed 4th grade grammar. What is your point? I avoid relationship statuses for exactly this reason. Fakebook Friends don’t need access to my personal business, and if they have that access, it is my fault for giving it to them. You were one of the Author’s 5 reasons guys don’t get laid in law school, weren’t you?

  • Craig

    haha.  Excuse my grammar I guess.  I just don’t think any of her articles ring true.  They read like they are written by someone with no true experience with the subject.  Maybe just me.  Sorry for personally insulting you.

  • Guano Dubango

    I must resort to something, my son, if I am to experience again the joy of female attention.  And, as you know, I am not getting any younger.  For this reason, a somewhat more mature, albeit whiny, female wench like Alma with a law degree that has not yet bore children will likely prove to be the biggest challenge, and the biggest prize, like a cheetah in the veldt, once properly bagged.  That is why I pursue her, for the hunt and the eventual catching.  She will eventually be mine, all of her.  That, my son, is why you should follow my lead, and not pursue the female hyenas, only the leopards and cougars.  They emit the best roar in the heat of passion.

  • Craig, why so serious?

    Oh Craig! Sounds like you’re some old, fat, miserable associate who has been vying for a partner position for some time now. You probably keep getting passed over because of your unwillingness to take a joke or use spell-check. You’re maybe even starting to show the first signs of male pattern baldness, compounding your anxiety.
    Even if none of those are true, lighten up! The law is serious and miserable enough without people like you trying to ruin a light-hearted fun piece.

  • BL1Y

    The suggested changes to Facebook for breakups just don’t make sense.  (1) Mandatory cool down?  Facebook is going to track when you have real life fights and then use that to decide when you can change your relationship status to reflect it? (2) Chance for the other side to tell its story?  Does the other person not have their own status updates? (3) Notification has to be approved by both parties?  Sorry, it only takes one side to break up, and is Facebook really going to make you keep your relationship status until the other person agrees to change it?  …I have to agree that this sounds like the ideas of a 13 year old.  …Or by someone who learned logical reasoning from law school.

  • Craig

    You hit it right on the head.  That is exactly me.  Sorry to ruin everyones fun.  Sorry that I just don’t enjoy this writer on any level.  I will leave you all now to discuss this great article with perfect grammar.

  • Attention whore

    They’re not mandatory reading requirements, so spend all this time hitting the refresh button seeing if anyone commented about you.

  • cLaw

    Entertaining article, despite what the internet trolls say.

  • Evil Lawyer

    Craig: I am with you. Perfect spelling cannot compensate for a sterile reprint from Seventeen. (full disclosure: the woman who critcized my honor’s thesis in college for–typos!-while ignoring the ideas squeaked into a mediocre law school, and an even more mediocre employer but she’s a great proof-reader.)

  • Anonymous

    Craig and BL1Y are two peas in a pod. Perhaps they can husk each other’s weenies.

  • BL1Y

    I am proud to say…I have no idea what that means.

  • IPOrainmaker

    this advice is completely backwards.  upon the advice of our 8th degree six sigma blackbelts, our firm has gone full speed in the opposite direction, and we haven’t regretted it once.  not only should you be bringing your co-workers into facebook, but moving the entire firm onto facebook.  the server, intrafirm communication, everything.  we’ve already cut our IT costs by 95%.  wall posts between partners are instant, practice areas are clearly defined by facebook groups, and morale is higher than ever with constant birthdays.  redlined changes to my blackberry via twitter = performance.

  • Anonymous

    What the hell does that mean, IPO?  How is that even possible?

  • IPOrainmaker

    it means that it was probably a bad joke, but that you’re still dense anyways.

  • Sarcasmus

    Chicks love expensive meat.