Breaking up is hard to do

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 2, 2016

Technology tends to change our interactions with others but, by my way of thinking, those changes have mostly been for the better. But then the other day I heard a news story on NPR about a Canadian company, the Break Up Shop. For $30, someone will call your significant other (marriages excluded) and end things. For $10 you can buy a text or an email and for $20 you can buy an actual paper letter. One of the co-founders is quoted in Business Insider as saying, “People are already paying services like Tinder to get them in a relationship, why not pay a service to get you out of one?” This is false equivalency; getting into a relationship requires considerably less emotional investment than getting out of one. Granted, I think this service will fail miserably, not because people want less drama during a break up, but because this will only add drama. For instance, should someone receive a call from a third party alerting them that their relationship was terminated, I expect the person would just get on the phone and call up the other party and demand some sort of explanation. With that said, let’s pretend this service could and would do what it promises—make breaking up painless. This would be terrible. I don’t mean that if breaking up with someone is made painless then it will happen with greater frequency, for that would imply many of us are in relationships solely because we lack the emotional strength to escape. I don’t believe that’s the case. My problem with sub-contracting relationship management is that we would not be forced to articulate ourselves. In short, we would be opting out of an essential part of the social dynamic. A world wherein we are unable or unwilling to express preference or to speak clearly and truthfully to someone seems like a cultural wasteland. Romantic relationships are among the most intimate social bonds we form—even if some of them have a short lifespan. Relinquishing control of them to a third party might make a break up easier; but in so doing, it diminishes the nature of intimacy, too.

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