The planet is dying, the COVID–19 pandemic is raging on, and we’re still knee–deep in political turmoil. Celebrity breakups still manage to make headlines regardless.
There was a time when rough patches in relationships weren’t broadcasted into the world, with people choosing to scribble their frustrations into a diary or venting to a friend. However, as technology has evolved, so has the way we interact in and with relationships. Private diary entries turned into tweets and status updates. We yearned to be 'Facebook official' and even shared when things got “complicated.”
Oversharing has become the new normal, and for public figures who have less privacy than the average person, the scope of what remains private has shrunk gradually over time. The public breakup was subtle at first, an example being when Johnny Depp quietly covered his "Winona Forever" tattoo in tribute to his ex, Winona Ryder. It has now escalated into the tumultuous train wrecks that many of us witnessed on the internet over the last few weeks, including the breakup of hip–hop’s 'it couple' Saweetie and Quavo as well as self–professed relationship expert Derrick Jaxn’s embarrassing confession of infidelity.
Information that was once passed down and filtered through both the paparazzi and tabloids is now being disseminated straight from the source. As much as celebs overshare and are too forthcoming with the details of their relationships, frankly, we are equally as guilty for getting caught up in them.
Last week, a clip from the show Respectfully Justin, hosted by Justin Laboy, went viral, featuring Saweetie sitting in the hot seat of the talk show. Not only did the questions, as well as Saweetie’s answers, make the crowd go wild, but it made extensive rounds on the internet as well.
Two days after the clip aired, Saweetie and Quavo announced their breakup on Twitter. “I’m single,” she tweeted. “I’ve endured too much betrayal and hurt behind the scenes for a false narrative to be circulating that degrades my character. Presents don’t band aid scars and the love isn’t real when the intimacy is given to other women.”
In response to Saweetie’s subtweets, Quavo responded, “I had love for you and [I’m] disappointed you did all that,” and “You are not the woman I thought you were. I wish you nothing but the best.”
This brief exchange was enough to get what seems like everybody on social media riled up due to the fact that so many of us were invested in their relationship. We watched their relationship unfold from the DM that started it all to their endearing GQ "Couples Quiz" video. All in all, they seemed to be the perfect couple.
Fans may never know the real cause of their breakup, but this doesn’t stop speculation. Reading between the lines of Saweetie’s tweets implies that Quavo cheated, something both parties denied last year. Others think that the breakup was the result of the flirtatious nature of Saweetie’s interview on Respectfully Justin, as the show's executive producer, Justin Combs and Saweetie had allegedly dated. We only know as much as Quavo and Saweetie share, which in this case is quite a lot.
Even though Derrick Jaxn and his wife Da’Naia Jackson have nowhere near the level of status that Saweetie and Quavo do, around three million people tuned in to watch Jaxn’s online admission that he did, in fact, cheat on his wife. "The truth is Derrick Jaxn was involved with other women—outside the marriage," he admitted in a now–deleted Instagram video. “By involved, I want to be clear, I’m not talking about casually kicking it, or maybe a lunch … I’m talking about something as serious as sex to sexual flirtation.”
The whole irony and intrigue of the situation is that Jaxn had built his career upon being an expert on how to maintain healthy and happy relationships and has even written books on the subject. “I cannot build a platform preaching about certain things and then in my real life live contrary to that,” he says in the post.
Something that seems as arbitrary and normal as sharing relationship statuses online, whether this is through Facebook or other social media platforms, can actually tell a lot about human behavior. In 2014, Facebook Data Science revealed that people who changed their Facebook status to “single” had on average a 225% increase in their number of Facebook interactions the next day. The volume of interactions then tended to stabilize over the next week, while still maintaining a level higher than the number of interactions pre–separation. Regardless of the stabilization, the immediate increase could be indicative of how social media use has influenced the way we handle breakups.
At this point in time, public relationships serve more as fodder for timelines and group chats than anything else, making them hard to tune out. Our interest in watching others’ relationships fall apart doesn’t just exist in our consumption of gossip via Twitter, but also in films like Marriage Story and Malcolm & Marie, both of which were widely watched. It is difficult to say what or who is to blame for the fascination and mania that these conversations induce, but one thing is for certain—we just can’t get enough.