Yesterday, Christine Rosen pulled back the curtain on “couples apps,” digital helpmates that allow lovebirds to document their time together like never before. By creating a private network of texts, pictures, and videos for you and your partner to share, these apps vend the kind of obsessive intimacy we all crave—or think we do. Then, of course, reality kicks in, and we realize we don’t actually want to watch video of our boyfriend brushing his teeth. The way he spits is really annoying! But by the time we end things, we’ve built up an archive of unwelcome memories, all minutely recorded in the Web version of permanent marker. What to do?
It’s not just couples apps. Our smartphones and iPads and laptops are constantly storing romantic interactions we may someday wish to forget. Fortunately, KillSwitch, a new app launching (appropriately or ironically) on Valentine’s Day, takes care of all the messy grunt work involved in removing an ex’s photos, tags, and wall posts and stores them neatly in a super secret album on your Facebook profile. What’s more, the app also unlikes all status updates.
When Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big broke up (the first time) in Sex and the City, an entire episode was centered on defining rules and behavior post-breakup. Feeling fabulous, well not quite but almost, Carrie starts wallowing again when she finds a picture of her and Big. Then and there, Carrie decides that one of the breakup rules is to get rid of all photographic evidence where “he looks sexy, and you look happy.” The show’s characters didn’t have Facebook, but they were on to something.
Whether we like it or not, our digital lives have evolved and extended. But getting online and being bombarded by photos, posts, and all the myriad things that comprise the online history of a relationship is needlessly painful. There’s the psychological pingpong involved in deciding how much access an ex should be granted to your online self: Should you unfriend him entirely? Hide her from your news feed? Call a friend for advice, only to end up rehashing all the emotional baggage you’ve been trying to escape in the first place?
KillSwitch enables users to cleanly snip the ties that technology has created. It’s called a breakup because something is broken, and there’s no need to stir up memories with all the jagged little pieces online.
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It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.