Social media has transformed college students into a bunch of Jane Austen characters, suggests a study called The Breakup 2.0 by Ilana Gershon. Online, young people’s romantic lives are played out in public, governed by rigid protocol, and subject to relentless judgment—circumstances that would have been familiar to the 19th-century crowd.
Writing for the Barnes & Noble Review, Adam Kirsh calls Gershon’s findings “limited but very intriguing”:
Is it rude to break up with someone by text message? If you text your boyfriend that you want to break up, does that itself constitute a break-up, or is it just an overture to a longer process? If you do break up, do you change your Facebook status to “single” right away, or should you tell your best friends about it first, so they won’t find out on their Facebook news feeds? If your IM away message quotes dark or cynical lyrics, does that mean you are depressed about a break-up, or just that you like the song?
As Gershon discovers, college students have very definite views about all these questions—just as Elizabeth Bennet would have been quite definite about whether an unmarried woman is permitted to dance several times with the same man at a ball.
Does this make Aaron Sorkin our Jane Austen?
(via The Book Bench)