by Vicki Larson
Here’s how I’ve heard a good divorce should work: you and your former spouse approach co-parenting as a business arrangement. You both obviously have a vested interest in the product — that would be your kids — and so you each put equal time and energy into it while exchanging polite e-mails and phone calls to keep each other abreast of what’s happening with “the product.”
You do not badmouth the other business partner — bad for business! — nor do you pump the product for information about the other business partner, such as any recent younger, blonder “hires” or any previously undisclosed assets.
In the six-plus years we’ve been divorced, my former husband and I have managed to do that pretty well — as long as we’re able to keep the emotional stuff out of it. That isn’t always easy, although, honestly, I’ve worked for a few businesses that were way more dysfunctional than some families I know.
Still, he has his life, and I have mine. So I didn’t know what to think when I sat down at my laptop the other morning to check my e-mail and discovered that my ex had sent a request to friend me on Facebook.
Just the fact that you’re an ex means that the relationship didn’t exactly end on a really positive note; now we should be “friends”?
Welcome to the brave new world of social networking; while some people are using it for hooking up, others are using it for breaking up, and while some exes are giving blow-by-blow status updates of their custody battles, others are trying to “friend” their exes. As Amanda Portini wrote in Salon last year, “Facebook is the theater where some of life’s most chaotic, catastrophic and bewildering moments are now being played out.”
Fine, but do I really want to throw myself into that? After all, I’m not even Facebook friends with my own kids and some of my real-life friends. And my boss? No way!
But, I’m unsure whom I should “friend”; where’s Emily Post when you really need her?
I’ve worked hard to keep my various lives – mother, ex-wife, girlfriend, friend, employee, boss — somewhat separate. I don’t talk about my personal life too much at work, although if you work at any place long enough, it’s almost impossible to keep that totally private. And, I’ve been known to get into a good B&M session about work with my friends. But I do at least try to keep it all separate online. I don’t talk about getting together for a gal’s night and kicking back a few mojitos on LinkedIn, and I don’t send business associates to my Facebook profile, where I typically wax nostalgic about how friends’ kids have grown or “like” upcoming gigs for the handful of bands I follow.
Does my ex need to know that about me? Does my boss? It just seems weird. But, maybe I’m wrong.
According to Patrice-Anne Rutledge, author of "The Truth About Profiting from Social Networking ,” if that’s the kind of company you’re working for, go ahead and friend your boss. "When you connect online, you get to know someone better," she says.
Maybe, but I could probably do the same by taking him out for a cup of coffee. Or watching his behavior at the company Christmas party.
And, I sure know all I need to know about my ex. That’s why he’s my ex.
There are a lot of gray areas when it comes to social media. A Chicago woman is being sued for a flippant tweet about the mold in her apartment; about 8 percent of U.S. companies say they’ve fired an employee for his or her Facebook or LinkedIn antics; and more lawyers are watching what people are posting online to see if a soon-to-be-ex-spouse is blowing money on fancy dinners and weekend getaways for a new love — called, somewhat ironically, “marital waste.”
My divorce and custody arrangements are way behind me, so I’m not in any danger of “marital waste.” Still, I wondered — should I friend my ex? What would be the pros and cons? How much of my life do I want him to know?
I reviewed my pages to see if there was something embarrassing, like being a fan of Crocs or Zhu Zhu Pets; checked any pictures in which I might have been tagged, and reread some of my recent status updates; there was nothing that seemed scandalous or even marginally questionable. Perhaps I should be more embarrassed about my ex seeing how dull my life is!
So I friended him.
After about a week, I didn’t think too much about it anymore — until I got an e-mail announcing that he was now following me on Twitter.
I’m still trying to process how I feel about all of this. But, when I finally do figure it out, I’m sure as heck not going to tweet about it!