Social media is a phenomenal way to connect, build a community of like-minded friends and share news of what’s going on in your life.
It can feel wonderful to share good news on social media and receive congratulatory posts in response. But when your news is more thorns than roses, navigating the social media landscape becomes a challenge.
For instance, there’s nothing social about divorce. It’s painful, personal and impacts everyone differently. How you handle divorce when it comes to social media mirrors how you should handle bad news in your life: rely on discretion, sensitivity and tact to steer you in the right direction. Here are a few tips to dealing with divorce on social media.
Direct is Best
Discretion is most important when discussing personal situations like divorce. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always play a role when it comes to how people handle social media. While Facebook is a good way to let people know things quickly, announcing a divorce on social media is not the appropriate way to share the news.
Directly telling close friends and family of personal news is generally the best way to inform people what is going on in your life. You can share the news in person, or over the telephone. Even an email, letter or note can be used to let people know. The idea is to share the news in a direct manner. But keep in mind, less tends to be best—don’t feel the need to overshare.
It’s not necessary to announce your marital breakup to the rest of the world via social media. Updating your profile status from married to single is a clear sign your life has changed. If anyone inquiries about the change—either by public post or private message—contact them directly and share what you feel comfortable disclosing about your situation.
Your Facebook page is your page. Feel free to delete any public comment or post that inadvertently shares your news. While a friend may simply be checking in because they care, it’s not appropriate for them to publicly comment on or ask about your marital status.
Keep It Simple
Many people use Facebook and other social channels as a therapy session or feel the need to explain themselves. Do not fall into that trap when you’re going through a divorce. There’s no need to divulge details. What you post on social media is public, and what you share is out there for the world to see. Your divorce, the reasons behind it and your settlement negotiations should not be aired online.
When sharing news, keep in mind you are also opening yourself to comments you may or may not want to respond to. You and your ex may have friends in common or know many of the same people online. What you share will get back to your ex, so keep it simple and civil. Your marriage was personal. Your divorce should be the same.
Stay Out of It
Navigating social media when the divorce news is not your own is also a challenge. However, many of the same rules that apply to dealing with divorce in real life also apply here. You should remain as neutral as possible. Whether you choose to remain friends with one or both of the divorcing spouses, don’t badmouth either party to the other. It’s unhelpful and will harm your relationships.
If a friend chooses to publicly share the news of their divorce online, respond in an appropriate matter. While Facebook has expanded beyond “like,” an emoticon is an overly simplistic way to react to such news. I suggest you comment with something heartfelt via a direct, private message. You could also call or text to let your friend know you’re thinking of them.
Also, resist the urge to judge. The reality is that no one knows everything about the personal lives of their friends, however close they are. There are two sides to every story. Do your best to trust that both people have worked on it as well as they could. Resist the urge to chime in with what you think should or should not happen unless specifically asked and even then, tread lightly. It’s not your divorce.
Finally, don’t get in the middle. If you remain friends with both spouses, you may see that they’re no longer “friends” online, which puts you in the position to see what both may be posting online. Don’t put yourself in the position of relaying news or betraying confidences. Let them both move forward with their separate lives and continue your friendships with them as you see fit.
You may also like How to Help a Friend Dealing with Divorce. For more of Diane’s etiquette tips read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on Huff Post, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.