Breaking up in public is humiliating anyway. But with Facebook, it just takes less time for everyone to know about it.

My husband and I recently spent date night at home watching “The Social Network.” Nominated this year for an Oscar for best picture, the movie follows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as he creates his online sensation in a drunken effort to rate hot girls at Harvard University.

Seven years and 500 million users later, Facebook has revolutionized the way people get together ... or break apart. Kind of like what Henry Ford did for dating when he introduced the car (and its backseat) near the beginning of last century.

Today, young couples pronounce their togetherness with a photo and this change on the status line of their Facebook pages: “In a relationship.”

Easy enough, until it is time to part ways.

“She was angry he changed his Facebook status to ‘single’ right after they hung up with each other,” a family friend said about her high school son’s break-up last year.

At least these two of the technology age ended their relationship on the old-fashioned phone instead of via text message.

At first, I didn’t fully understand the big deal behind the online Facebook status announcements. But here’s how a 1980s split would look in an effort to compete with the online reach of a 2011 Facebook spat:

You and your sweetheart break up at a function (let’s say homecoming or prom) attended by hundreds of people who witness the return (sob) of class rings. We’ll add Bon Jovi’s “Never Say Goodbye” as background music for heightened ironic drama.

The girl unwinds the thread that binds his chunky ring to her finger, while the guy takes the dainty circle off the chain around his neck and presses it into her hand.

The hundreds of eyewitnesses would then have to leave the dance and rush home to call every last one of their friends, plus their distant acquaintances, on a phone most likely attached to the wall by a cord.

Today, this all takes place with the click of a mouse. Instantaneously, the online world knows your news and can “Like,” comment or “Unfriend.”

You don’t have to be a teenager to become caught up in Facebook relationship games, either.
In their book “Facebook and Your Marriage,” authors K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky tackle all the tricky issues plaguing today’s wired-in couples, including sections on: avoiding Facebook addictions, spying on your spouse’s Facebook page and “friending” former love interests.

But it’s not all bad. According to the Krafskys, you can even have a Facebook affair with your spouse.

Of course, I’d rather have a real-life affair with my spouse ... in a hotel room far away from the children and the jobs and the household responsibilities. With room service and warm beaches close by.

But I’ll settle for a one-night getaway next week. We tied the knot 18 years ago, and we haven’t managed to unravel it yet, even though we’ve only been officially married on Facebook for two years.

Does that mean we’re in some kind of online honeymoon period? Probably not, since I rarely remember to even check his page.

Perhaps it’s time for a sexy wall post … something really spicy, like “How about pasta for dinner tonight?” or “Pick up the dog food on your way home from work.”

If you try this at home, please remember that employers and colleges look at that stuff. So I’ll bypass the wall post and just send a personal message:

“Meet me upstairs by 9:00 ... before I fall asleep.”

Julie Kaiser is a freelance writer and columnist living in Chatham, Ill.

State Journal-Register