Breaking Up is Hard to Do…in a digital world
The era is long gone when a romantic breakup meant ripped-up photos and burned love letters. Today, digital photos and emails can be quickly deleted but the proliferation of social media has made forgetting a bigger chore.
What about the ubiquitous digital records of a once beloved that lurk on Facebook, tumblr, and flicker?
"People are keeping huge collections of digital possessions," says Steve Whittaker, a psychology professor at UC Santa Cruz who specializes in human-computer interaction. "There has been little exploration of the negative role of digital possessions when people want to forget aspects of their lives."
In a paper, "Design for Forgetting: Disposing of Digital Possessions after a Breakup," Whittaker and co-author Corina Sas, of Lancaster University, examine the challenges of digital possessions and their disposal after a romantic breakup. Sas worked on the research as a visiting professor at UCSC.