Finding it difficult to get over your ex? Maybe Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to blame

Photo by Prateek Katyal

In a research paper titled “Am I Never Going to Be Free of All This Crap?”: Upsetting Encounters with Algorithmically Curated Content About Ex-Partners, researchers have found one fairly modern problem that might prevent a broken heart from healing: your social media profiles. And more specifically, the AI and algorithms that decide what you see and when. I first noticed this article in the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest and wanted to share it here with you.

The authors interviewed 19 people about their experiences of separating from a partner and explored how social media, specifically Facebook, played a role in their experience.

They noticed that the “contextually insensitive” content about their ex-partners would be one of the most damaging aspects of trying to heal after loss.

Things like sharing of updates, or, worse still, republishing ‘on this day’ posts from a time when the relationship seemed (at least to the outside world) much happier, were cited as problematic.

If you have split up with someone and that separation is still causing you pain, the researchers note that you can unfriend, unfollow or block your ex. Yet, they wonder whether being able to switch people on and off this way – what they refer to as a “don’t make me think” mentality – is helpful.

Clearly the technical advances in the past couple of decades have meant that navigating our connections with people online is as important, if not more important, than navigating them offline – quite simply because the online experience follows us wherever we go.

The research then covers a range of considerations for how relationships and the breakdown and termination of relationships could be handled by artificial intelligence to improve our experiences online.

It is difficult to get over your ex and, like any loss, it requires time and a renegotiation with the world around you. Whether it means you are single or still in other relationships – you’re probably going to want to let people know how that loss is impacting you and, if possible, let others know how they might be able to help you through that loss.