"Social Media Breakup Coordinator" Project By Caroline Sinders Gives Much-Needed Help With Social Media After A Breakup
It's a truth, universally acknowledged, that breakups are the worst, and social media often makes it even harder to disconnect from your ex these days. Fortunately, one woman is out to change that, through an art project she calls the "Social Media Breakup Coordinator." Simultaneously an art project and an actual, usable service, the Breakup Coordinator's premise is simple: To help people cut exes out of their lives. After all, breaking up is difficult enough in the first place, let alone when you're forced to see your ex pop up day after day on Instagram, Facebook, and whatever other social networks kids are into these days. (Has Myspace become retro enough to be cool again?)
Of course, the easy solution would be to unfriend them, but that's often easier said than done. As creator Caroline Sinders explained to Bustle over email, “To 'break up' or see less of someone, a user must do a manual process of unfollowing, untagging, and/or muting or hiding content even from other people. It's easy to get close on line… It's much, much harder to create distance.”
When you can't bring yourself to delete photos of your ex from your phone, for example, or you keep drunk-texting them and regretting it the next day, the Breakup Coordinator comes to the rescue. According to the Daily Dot, Sinders will do everything from delete their contact information for you (and hold on to it just in case) to unfollowing and unfriending your ex and their friends. Not only does this serve to excise someone from your life, but it spares you the pain of having to look through their social media at all.
Sinders had her first "office hours" at the interactive gallery Babycastles in early December, and by all accounts it was a success. Before each 15-minute session, clients take a 21-question quiz beforehand that "helps define what the user is coming into the session for without getting overly personal," Sinders explained to Bustle over email. "I need to know some information but not everything to be able to provide neutral but actionable advice. I don't ever want to lead people down a particular route," she wrote. "I want them to show me what routes they need."
If that sounds impersonal, it's because she intended for the service to be that way — although Sinders initially planned on giving "hyper-personal" advice, she quickly realized it would be difficult to do so after meeting someone just once. As a result, she keeps the advice unspecific, so clients can take or leave it without feeling like she's condescending to them. "I provide some broad suggestions and while talking to the person will provide some more [personalized] solutions once the main solution has been given," she wrote to Bustle.
There's an element of satire to the project — Sinders explained that it’s intended to comment on "start up culture, emotional labor, and how technology is changing our concepts of the service industry, especially in relationship to outsourcing everything" — but at the end of the day, it's more helpful than you'd think. At least part of its success is due to the range of clients Sinders is willing to advise; despite its name, the Breakup Coordinator isn't restricted to people looking to cut exes out of their lives. Sinders will help out with anything from seeing less of an annoying coworker to disconnecting from social media entirely. “Social Media Break Up Coordinator is actually for a wide variety of personal situations on social media, not just actual romantic break ups. It’s about breaking up or fixing our relationships WITH social media,” she wrote.
The Breakup Coordinator may have started out as a satire, but it's clear that there's a market ready and waiting for this kind of service, especially since Sinders is so careful not to take away her clients' agency in the process. After all, this is America — we're not known for being good at taking other people's advice, no matter how well-reasoned and useful it might be.