Tag Archive: gershon

The Breakup 2.0 Reading Summary

“Disconnecting Over New Media”

Gershon starts off her writing by summarizing that “we are part of a community with shared and often unspoken expectations” (1).  So when it comes to breaking up with a significant other, what “rules” are there?

Gershon goes over the different methods that we use today to break up with our partners, including the different technological tools.  There’s face-to-face conversation, texting, and facebook for breaking up. But these “new” medias are becoming more a part of the breakup experience than the actual act itself, and “become part of the message” (3). Gershon goes on to explain that they shape the experience through media idelogies, the idea that how we think about media affects the way we use it. This idea is shown through media breakups and how we, as a society, perceive them compared to traditional methods.

Gershon then explains the theory  idioms of practice, the idea that people agree on the application of social uses of technology by sharing experiences with each other. So when friends share break up experiences, agreed-upon scenarios are formed on what should be used when. This creates a sense, within a community or even society as a whole, of what’s the right or wrong way to break up with someone.


Gershon begins by asking her students “What counts as a bad breakup?” The answers she was getting intrigued her and sparked an interest in a research study. Through the answers she received, Gershon saw that what was often considered a “bad” breakup, was one that was mediated, conducted through media. From this idea, Gershon goes on to question why and how mediated breakup are bad and how people come to that conclusion. She talks about how it is socially agreed upon that a mediated breakup is bad, but there isn’t a consensus of what it is bad or good with a mediated breakup. She began to see that it wasn’t necessarily the fact that the person who broke up with the other used technology as the medium, it seemed that people thought this was bad because people recognize that there are other mediums that could be used. For example, one may see a breakup through Facebook as worse than a breakup through email. Gershon’s main thesis is that people’s beliefs about media and its uses are decided through idioms of practice, people talking and agreeing on when it is appropriate to use certain mediums and how to use them. People are the ones who decide the social “laws” of using these technologies.

Gershon began thinking of this when she saw a pattern in the answers she recieved from her students. She then began to analyze why these patterns exist. For her study, she interviewed 72 people, most og whom were college students. She also interviewed some older couples who had lived together prior to the breakup to contrast the stories and the role that technology played in their breakup.