Obscure Relationship Commentary on Twitter

A good portion of the tweets I’ve read involve dramatic obscure relationship commentary. It’s officially a genre.

The only requirement is that you divulge some very real emotions about a relationship, without providing any details about the other party, so that essentially nobody outside your closest circle will know what you were talking about. It’s most often women who do this, but guys do it too (shit I have). The male obscure relationship commentary tends to be a little more detached, like we are talking about a math problem. I find it interesting how I am more broken up over a 2+ month relationship vs divorcing after 13 years.”  Dude that’s heavy stuff. While it is technically “interesting,” it’s also perhaps reflective of some larger issues.

Facebook doesn’t really have these kind of obscure comments nearly as much. Twitter owns it. Probably because of the difference in nature between followers and friends. Facebook relationship commentary is the opposite of obscure. It tends to be highly targeted. I’ve had several friends read status updates from ex-girlfriends or boyfriends that seemed designed to be read by them and people close to both of them. Things like “I’ll bring my entire voting history to my date tonight,” after a breakup around political differences. It signals that a) the person has a new date and b) they are pissed about breaking up over politics. Not obscure at all. Targeted.

Those of us who post in this genre are more brave with disclosing  real emotions, and sometimes a little heavier on the anger side: “Hate boys and their stupid excuses!” But across all of these posts, one thing is consistent: obscurity. The name of the game is venting while keeping the details obscure enough not to identify anyone real to the public, and thus violate some unspoken rule of diplomacy that barely exists on the internet. The other name of the game is bravery. Because I genuinely admire people that are willing to share something personal about their life. It is brave to say “i’m devastated” since most of us don’t like to admit when things are fucked up. It takes courage to share authentically. And for some reason you see much, much less of this on Facebook. Not sure why, but there’s something about twitter that just lends itself to semi-anonymous venting. So let’s give it a whirl with a few of the big winners here, and big thanks to the outstandingly awesome Spangley and Maya Baratz and Jayzombie for their help:

“In tears again…. Not a good day…..”

bravery:    10   |   obscurity:  10   |    anger:  0

“HE MAD HIS CHOICE AND IT WASNT ME SO HEARTBROKEN LOVE SUCKS”

bravery: 5 | obscurity: 10 | anger: 7 | spelling: awesome

“I hate giving my 100% to a relationship & it doesn’t go as planned…”

bravery:    1   |   obscurity:  10   |    anger:  6

if you ask me if i WANT to do something & i say NO you have no right be me mad! you asked, i answered. maybe not the answer you wanted…

bravery:    1  | obscurity:  10   |    anger:  10

I didn’t regret the day he became one of those I’ve loved along the way…

bravery:    6   |   obscurity:  10   |    anger:  0

I wish sunglasses actually did a good job at hiding tears.

bravery:    1   |   obscurity:  7   |    anger:  0

I’m crying. Tears. For the first time in nine or ten years. Fuck.

bravery:    10   |   obscurity:  1   |    anger:  10

Please for the love of god leave any you find as a comment I *really* need more of these and there are so many.

  • There is an element of authenticity and transparency to all of this, sure, but I have to wonder if there’s a more subtle, less innocent motive behind a lot of these: the desire to shame the offending party in a public yet passive way. I have to imagine that in a lot of cases the subject of such tweets is also their primary intended audience, and the other receivers are merely witnesses. It’s a passive, non-confrontational way of calling someone out, and a way of exercising some social control in a situation where people feel powerless.

    Not to discount the possibility that people are just venting, of course. But I think at least subconsciously there’s more going on there than just raw emotions and sharing.

  • There is an element of authenticity and transparency to all of this, sure, but I have to wonder if there’s a more subtle, less innocent motive behind a lot of these: the desire to shame the offending party in a public yet passive way. I have to imagine that in a lot of cases the subject of such tweets is also their primary intended audience, and the other receivers are merely witnesses. It’s a passive, non-confrontational way of calling someone out, and a way of exercising some social control in a situation where people feel powerless.

    Not to discount the possibility that people are just venting, of course. But I think at least subconsciously there’s more going on there than just raw emotions and sharing.

  • You unearthed the old post, so I can comment on it.

    I’m with Buzz on this. I think it has a LOT to do with passively strike out at the “offending” party. My favorite of these was actually aimed at me. Something along the lines of “Low maintenance doesn’t equate to no maintenance…”

  • You unearthed the old post, so I can comment on it.

    I’m with Buzz on this. I think it has a LOT to do with passively strike out at the “offending” party. My favorite of these was actually aimed at me. Something along the lines of “Low maintenance doesn’t equate to no maintenance…”

  • Great post.

    Sometimes you say/write things that (1) show a great deal of good will towards humanity (2) make me see familiar things in a new light.

    So thanks for that!

  • Great post.

    Sometimes you say/write things that (1) show a great deal of good will towards humanity (2) make me see familiar things in a new light.

    So thanks for that!

  • Livia Labate

    Very interesting. When I see this kind of tweet I always imagine the poster looking for empathy, not as a passive-aggressive way to communicate with the other party.

    I’ve seen some very explicit and detailed ones (celebrating divorce papers arrival, anniversary of divorce,etc) over the years and observed other people’s reactions (congratulations, etc), but can’t but wonder how many feel uncomfortable reading such a tweet and therefore say nothing.

  • Livia Labate

    Very interesting. When I see this kind of tweet I always imagine the poster looking for empathy, not as a passive-aggressive way to communicate with the other party.

    I’ve seen some very explicit and detailed ones (celebrating divorce papers arrival, anniversary of divorce,etc) over the years and observed other people’s reactions (congratulations, etc), but can’t but wonder how many feel uncomfortable reading such a tweet and therefore say nothing.

  • “devastated” i believe is the correct spelling. nice post… I've seen some bad sh*t go down this week with social media and a race to the bottom, tip of the iceberg here baby.

  • felipedario

    In Brazil, we call it “indireta” (“indirect”), especially when directed (hm) to someone who’s not specified. Probably the most common tweet genre here.