Social Media Break Up Coordinator
Facebook, twitter, Instagram and many more social media sites have become very popular with people of all age ranges across the globe in a relatively short time. These social media sites are great for connecting with friends and family- allowing a user to share photos and posts for everyone to see. Sometimes a post might include a tag to other people, tying you and that person together in a virtual social network. In the beginning of a relationship, this is wonderful. A user is able to share with their friends the awesome new person they are dating and feel great about doing it because the likes and notes of congratulations are bountiful. However, when the couple breaks up in real life, they break up on social media as well. The social media break up has proven to be an emotional minefield in terms of what to do because things are public, and a simple block or unfriend can send unwanted messages. Besides that, seeing old photos of an ex is downright painful. That is where Caroline Sinders and her performance art piece, Social Media Break Up Coordinator comes in to play.
Social Media Break Up Coordinator takes an algorithmic approach to solving the issue of how to proceed on social media after a break up. To get the advice of this algorithm, a prospective user must reach out to Caroline herself and be selected for the program. Once selected, the participant is required to sign a legal document removing miss Sinders from any liability. Following the legal stuff, the user then answers a 21-question survey wherein the questions are designed to determine the entire nature of the relationship. Examples of relationship breakups include a best friend break up all the way to a divorce. Upon completion of the survey, the algorithm designed by Caroline herself, spits out a myriad of suggestions to the participant for each social media site they need advice on. The algorithm breaks down the real-life relationship, and translates that to what should occur on social media. The end result is what feels like highly personalized advice on what to do, but in reality, it is just an algorithm hard at work.
There is clearly a need for this sort of service in the world today. Physically avoiding someone is quite easy, but avoiding their online presence is nearly impossible. The algorithms of the social media sites get smart when they see you frequently with someone, and start to show you more of their content. Reversing this algorithm is no easy task due to the emotional implications involved. In fact, The Daily Dot had this to say in regard to Social Media Break Up Coordinator,
Removing someone from social media is a huge hassle today, but likely will not be in the future. The big social media players have started including options for identifying and removing an ex and their content with the push of a button. When the piece debuted in 2015, there was not this option. Going through a break up herself, Sinders was able to capture a moment in time and fill a gaping hole in society. In 2018, this piece is still relevant and very powerful because of how much of a negative influence social media can have on a person. The piece is also powerful because of what doing the survey means for the participant. It shows that even when a situation appears to be out of control, the participant has the power to overcome it. By participating in the questionnaire, they have taken the first step and acknowledged they need help. When the algorithm returns the results, it is up to the participant to take the advice or not. In this moment, the participant has the power. If the user decides to follow the advice, and say for example to block their ex, this is a conscious decision. All of the steps on social media taken at the direction of the algorithm can be undone at a future date when the user is emotionally ready to open up that part of their life if they so desire. Of course undoing the steps is not necessary, but it just shows again that at all times the user has power to decide how to proceed. The power itself is humbling, because it shows that even when tasks appear to be insurmountable, humans are capable of pushing beyond their mental and emotional capacities.
With the world the way it is today, the need for navigating the social scene has never been more clear. Social Media Break Up Coordinator takes a great approach to this need, but another view of this is the Millennial Love Facebook Group. The Millennial Love Facebook Group is comprised of young adults, who assist each other with everyday dating conundrums. The group is a total crowdsourced platform, where any group member can ask a question about dating, and the responses will be crafted by millennials who have a good grasp on what is or isn’t appropriate to do in society today. The page touches on similar themes as Sinders’ piece, but takes it a bit further by having actual conversations about the problems via a podcast. The podcast obtains all of its content from user-submitted stories, which make for an incredibly tragic listen. It is really sad to hear how so many people have been hurt in so many different ways, but encouraging because there are other groups out there dedicated to emotional healing. This aspect is similar to Sinder's piece, because it empowers individuals to take their situation into their own hands and get over it. Additionally, reaching out to other people is quite similar to asking Caroline for her advice from an algorithm.
Crowdpilot by Lauren McCarthy again deals with similar issues of how to proceed in a social situation but takes an immediate solution approach. With Crowdpilot, users have the ability to stream live conversation to the web, where watchers can choose what the user does next as opposed to the algorithm in Social Media Break Up Coordinator, where the algorithm gives recommendations on what to do next. With Crowdpilot however, users can choose to get help from many different situations, and none are related to a breakup. Rather, a user can choose to get live help on a first date. To show just how digital the world has become, a person now has the ability to let random strangers dictate the way they behave throughout an entire relationship, and then let an algorithm suggest how to proceed following the relationship. People never even have to think for themselves anymore, but most importantly, they have the power to think if they so desire. Given all of this, it is clear that Social Media Break Up Coordinator has filled a hole in society, while at the same time keeping the power in the hands of a human. The piece is emotionally heavy, but does a wonderful job of navigating the social minefield and internal emotions.
Babycastles, NYC, December 2015
Fusion, Oakland, January 2016