Social media etiquette: How to stay cool when your ex badmouths you online
Tempted to lash out when your ex is writing negative things about you on social media? Think again. You’re not the only one watching…
Social media is fantastic for sharing news and ideas, but if you’re recently separated it can be torture seeing what your ex is up to online (and with whom!) Tempers often run high and it can be difficult to hold back, especially if your ex-partner is antagonising you or making negative comments. But if children are involved, it’s even more important that you think long and hard how you use social media in order to minimise conflict and distress.
Follow my six social media etiquette steps to avoid any unnecessary hurt:
1. STEP BACK
Exposure to an ex-partner through Facebook or other platforms can actually obstruct the healing process, a recent study by Brunel University revealed. It’s not surprising – the temptation to keep looking at our ex’s posts can cause all sorts of feelings of betrayal, jealousy and anger. The simplest option is to take yourself out of the equation so that means ‘unfriending’ them on Facebook, ‘unfollowing’ them on Instagram and Twitter and even blocking them if things get frenzied. If that feels too harsh, then you must rely on self-restraint. It won’t benefit you (or your ex) to obsess over their social media activity, especially if they have a new partner. So give yourself a social media detox, at least until the dust has settled.
2. BE KIND AND RESPECTFUL.
There is a saying: “The best thing you can do as a parent is to be kind to the other parent.” This holds as true after separation as before, and applies as much to social media posts as it does to face-to-face contact. You may no longer love your child’s other parent, but that person is still your child’s Mum or Dad and they are of huge importance to your child. People forget that when they badmouth the other parent online, children can feel that they too are being attacked. After all, they are half you and half the other parent. Make sure your family and friends are kind and respectful, too. If you set the tone, others will likely follow.
3. CALL A COMMUNICATION TRUCE
Agree upfront with your ex things like childcare arrangements, and how and when they will be introduced to new partners. Don’t let your ex find out by Facebook. Agree how you will share photos and happy times. You may claim that the photo you put on Facebook of you in the park with your kids and your new partner is an innocent reminder of a happy day, but think before posting about how it might be received by your ex. Better to do fewer posts for a while that risk causing additional conflict or upset.
4. TRY TO IGNORE HURTFUL POSTS
If your ex hasn’t read this blog post and isn’t behaving well on social media, try your best to ignore his or her posts and don’t take them personally. Don’t let your friends wind you up or let them gossip around you. Be the grown up and continue to be kind, respectful and considerate. Lead by example.
5. THINK OF YOUR CHILDREN
Don’t forget that children post to social media as well – and your children may see your negative posts too. They are even adept at using photos and recordings to manage conflict in their families.
6. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS
Looking at Internet usage more broadly, people often forget that passwords that they were once happy to share may now give an ex access to emails, phone messages, bank accounts and more. Now is the time to reset all your passwords to ensure your privacy.
Social media is now part of our every day lives and, used correctly, it can be a great and fun resource. But divorce is an emotionally charged topic and letting it all out in a public forum can only lead to difficulties at a time when you need to remain level headed. The old maxim goes: ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’. So think before you post – will this help or harm your children?