I grew up in a small town where I knew the names of most of the kids in my entire high school. It was a world where gossip traveled fast and lost loves were impossible to truly lose in the tiny crowd.
When I moved to the city after my divorce, I thought I'd left that small-town world behind. But then adults adopted social media.
At first I thought it was great to connect easily and make new friends. For the first couple years, Facebook and Twitter added fun and convenience to my life. Then my long-term relationship unexpectedly imploded, and it wasn't long before I found myself staring at a photo of my ex and his new girlfriend suggestively positioned in what used to be my bathtub.
As it turns out, that small-town drama is now available to all of us. And it's as close as the tips of our fingers.
Fortunately, there are ways you can protect yourself. Consider the following:
Step Away From The Keyboard! If you're dealing with a divorce, you might find it best to take a break from social media altogether. No doubt you likely have enough drama on your plate, you don't need to go clicking for more. The break will also free up some time to deal with rearranging your life, and you'll be able to focus only on those relationships that are most important (and therefore exist in real life). Besides, lawyers are increasingly making use of evidence gained from online profiles. No profile is better than a questionable profile.
Limit What You See And What You Share. If you choose to remain connected to your ex on Facebook, use the privacy settings to your advantage. You can choose to unsubscribe from your ex, thereby removing him/her from your newsfeed. You can also put your ex on a special List and limit the content he/she can see from you. On other platforms you can set your profile to Private, don't snoop and don't publish anything you wouldn't want to fall into the wrong hands.
Disconnect. You don't have to be friends or followers of each other. It's OK to cut ties as you move forward. But beware: disconnecting won't remove all remnants of your ex from your online community. If you need a bigger buffer, there's still one more option.
Block 'Em. Blocking your ex will essentially remove him/her from your virtual view. You won't see pictures and you won't see comments on mutual friends' posts. And your ex won't see your photos or comments either. This option is especially helpful if you're dealing with stalking and/or harassing behavior.
When convenient connection becomes inappropriate, annoying or painful, remember you can protect yourself with a few clicks of your mouse. Happy surfing!
Tara Eisenhard is an author, speaker, mediator and coach with a holistic outlook on divorce. She is the author of the novel "The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child's Eyes." Other articles by Tara can be found on her blog, Relative Evolutions .