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Facebook's New Breakup Tools: Do We Need Them?

27/11/2015 17:47 GMT | Updated 27/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Bruised hearts worldwide may feel a little relief this week, thanks to the sage guardians of Facebook's latest development: a tool that allows broken partnerships to limit how much they see of each other's profiles.

The tool, named 'Take a Break', aims to protect us from sleepless nights prompted by seeing photos of a smiling ex masquerading as a carefree Pollyanna who is totally okay with the entire break-up situation.

According to Kelly Winters, product manager for Facey-B:

"The work is part of our ongoing effort to develop resources for people who may be going through difficult moments in their lives. We hope these tools will help people end relations on Facebook with greater ease, comfort and sense of control."

Sadly, I can't help but harbour the jaded view that Facebook's motive is probably less 'help people deal with the emotional complications of breakups' and more 'make sure people keep using Facebook and don't avoid it based on fear they'll see an ex's photos' - although there probably was at least some level of compassion driving the decision.

The main thing that troubles me though, is how little self-control this new measure suggests we have.

My Phone Is My Mum Now

The more we sync with modern technology, the more control we seem to be surrendering to it. I mean, who needs to assert control over a whim to stalk their ex when we can rely on technology to mother us? Why acquire key navigation skills when Google Maps will hold our hand from door-to-door? Why go to the trouble of thinking things through when we can demand instant answers from Siri?

Admittedly, our brains were never designed for the world we now live in. We're pre-programmed with primal fear of those who are different to us, a desire to hoard and an endocrine system that rewards us for eating junk food en masse with a nice dose of serotonin that says 'yeh, I'm gonna survive winter', when it should say 'oh man, I'm morbidly obese now'.

So maybe modern inventions like social media do need safeguards to protect us from our silly old-school minds that still think we're cavemen (and apparently cavemen with Facebook would spend all their time scrolling through ex-conquests' pictures, weeping, in a destructive, confused urge for self-gratification).

But surely it would make sense for us to put sensible decisions and goals for long-term happiness first, and keep self-control in the gene pool for future generations? We're nippily becoming a big pile of selfie-taking, babbling kidults who blame all our problems on external sources rather than our own deplorable inability to say no to things that, with a little contemplation, we would sensibly avoid.

Okay, It's Not All Bad

I haven't been overly positive so far. In truth, I'm actually not completely against Facebook's new measures. I do think they'll help a lot of people who are going through one of the most traumatic processes of their life so far.

I admit, when a boyfriend of four years and I broke up, I wasn't a glowing example of positive willpower. Although we made the sensible decision to delete each other from Facebook, that didn't stop me from occasionally having a peek at his limited profile and descending into a self-inflicted pit of despair.

It's too easy to cave into temptation when answers to our neurotic ponderings are just one menacing click away.

Still, this was my fault. Not Facebook's.

Ultimately, I'm not opposed to the new tools. I just really hope we never get to a point where we consider them necessary to protect us from emotional harm. Because we all have the ability to choose what we expose ourselves to online, without suckling colostrum out of Mark Zuckerberg's nipple.