The Difficulty Of Erasing Your Relationships Online

CBS News is currently running a piece on how to delete your ex from your online life, offering links to various ex-blocking sites in order to help people move on. But is it really that simple?

There's something somewhat creepy about ex-blocking software; it's totally understandable if people want to use it to protect themselves from stalkers or abusive relationships, but if you're just trying to move on from a bad breakup, is erasing all evidence that your ex exists—or that your relationship once existed—really that helpful? I suppose it depends on your own personal methods of moving on; removing digital pictures, wall posts, and deleting texts is the 21st century equivalent of burning a box of letters and tearing photographs in two, and virtually wiping someone's existence out of your own might provide some catharsis and speed up the healing process.

But it's not always that easy: because we live in a time where everything is relentlessly documented via status updates or texts or tweets or blogs, relationships, dating to their earliest days, have a place in our online histories, and removing them leaves us with gaps in those histories, blank spots that were once filled with happier things. The ability to seemingly edit reality via the internet allows us to avoid the parts in our lives that have hurt us, but in doing so, are we also erasing the potential lessons we can take from failed relationships? We can't really erase these things in real life, though we can move on to the point where their place in our lives becomes less important, less painful, and fades from prominence, so is deleting the same things online just a method of avoidance as opposed to acceptance? And does it actually slow down the healing process by allowing us to just sweep things away instead of being faced with them and having to process them fully?

As I said earlier, it's one thing to install such software if it's a matter of protection from a dangerous person or a means of extricating oneself from a truly harmful situation. But maybe for the rest of us, attempting to delete our pasts isn't really going to help us embrace the present and look toward the future.

What say you, commenters? Have you ever deleted someone from your online life? And what were the results?

[Image via Feng Yu/Shutterstock]

[How To Delete Your Ex From Your Online Life [CBS News]