Breaking Up Is Hard to Tweet

Breaking up is hard to do – and now Twitter may be making the humiliation of being dumped even tougher.

A UK-based techie has created a Twitter feed called Reboundfinder that collects and posts news of nasty breakups from all over. Dan Zambonini set up a search that combined the terms “dumped” or “broken up” with either “my boyfriend” or “my girlfriend.” The messages are automatically “retweeted” to the Reboundfinder page, which features a line drawing of crestfallen face with a teardrop on its cheek.

“He was my boyfriend and best friend but he dumped me. I'm so embarassed (sic) that I still am not over him,” one heartbroken tweeter wrote.

“Well i (sic) got dumped by my girlfriend over the phone when i (sic) was going to dump her tonight,” another dumpee tweeted.

At least she used the phone.

Reboundfinder shows the shrinking boundaries of privacy for those who use social networking tools to relay the most personal details of their lives. It’s not always easy being part of Generation Text – the social codes and ramifications of life online are changing by the day.

But Reboundfinder also shows the power of Twitter as an information-gathering and dissemination tool that can be used for many means, good and otherwise. On his blog, Zambonini noted that Reboundfinder is “not a serious use” for the search code he created, “but an example of how a quick prototype can be easily re-used for other purposes.”

The Twitter model is clearly having an influence on Facebook, which formally announced Wednesday that it’s planning to debut some Twitter-like new features on March 11 -- including real-time updates and the ability to “follow” the feeds of public figures like President Obama and businesses.

The rapid changes come amid a mini-backlash against Facebook and online life. The Wall Street Journal reported last month that some adults are giving up Facebook for Lent. Now some Italian bishops are calling on Catholics to forgo modern amenities -- ranging from texting to surfing the web to driving -- until Easter. Some of the bishops' pleas, The Associated Press noted, were made via the web.

Pope Benedict XVI, a fixture of the Vatican’s new YouTube channel, actually has praised Facebook and MySpace, even as he’s warned against the danger of letting technology diminish personal interaction.

Social networking tools, at their best, can make us more connected -- or they can drive us apart, if misused. Think before you tweet.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.

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