Breakups are difficult when you live together. They're very difficult when you're engaged. And they're next to impossible when thousands of people are monitoring the relationship wreckage on both your blogs and Twitter feeds, through a Facebook profile and a Flickr page. So when the First Couple of the Toronto blog scene, 26-year-old Lauren White of "Raymi the Minx" and 34-year-old photographer "Phil Ogynist," an online handle, broke off their engagement, neither one blogged the details.
Until this week, that is, when Mr. Ogynist's veiled references to the breakup prompted Ms. White to violate her vow of silence with a stream-of-consciousness rant that accused her former fiancé of, among other things, extreme difficulties with real-world connection. "I could no longer tolerate being shut out emotionally," Ms. White wrote. "My spirit had had enough." Aside from changing his Facebook status to "single," Mr. Ogynist still declines to overtly blog about the details. "I don't want to have a fight back and forth, between our blogs," Mr. Ogynist said in an interview. "It's distasteful. To me, it cheapens the relationship we had for five years."
The breakup has created something of a tempest in the local blogging fishbowl because the pair's relationship had, at least from the outside, seemed ideal. Ms. White was already a well-known online diarist when she met her future fiancé five years ago. Her looks, her writing ability and serviceable photography skills generated a following, as did her penchant for compulsive disclosure; she wrote about everything from her suspected mental disorders to postprandial gas cramps. The other component to her notoriety was her perseverance. While others gradually grew disillusioned with their blogs or developed other interests, Ms. White maintained her steady habit, posting once a day - at least - most weeks, and sometimes more. "Her dedication to self-portraiture is what's interesting," says Hal Niedzviecki, Toronto author of The Peep Diaries: How We're Learning to Love Watching Ourselves and Our Neighbors . "She's very much the epitome of the committed, addicted blogger - no real gift to speak of, besides this intense need for attention. And she thrives on it."
Part of the attraction lay in the fact that Ms. White was a bit of a mess - providing scoops on job departures and one-night stands and the insecurities she developed as a result. And then, five years ago, she met Mr. Ogynist, a staffer for a real-estate development company; their parents were mutual friends. Through repeated links on Ms. White's blog, Mr. Ogynist's photo blog gained a following.
Some diehard readers complained that Ms. White's blog had lost the drama that made it interesting. But with her companion also compulsively posting, in part to further his moonlighting pursuit as a concert photographer, the two journals made for fascinating reading. The result was a profoundly addictive portrait of a glamorous, urban couple, read frequently by such well-known fans as the Barenaked Ladies' drummer, Tyler Stewart, and the songwriter Matthew Good. The couple's engagement last February was almost anti-climactic, it was so expected.
But then in recent weeks, Ms. White was posting about a new bedroom and complaining about the disadvantages of having moved to the 'burbs, to a subdivision in Burlington. Readers rightly realized the pair had ended their relationship. That prompted a fascinating debate about the blogger's responsibility toward the readership - and who was to blame for the relationship's conclusion. Some said that Raymi the Minx was a fictional construct, a manifestation Ms. White created and maintained at her discretion. "Don't ever feel like you owe the … Internet anything, explanations or otherwise," said one of Ms. White's online fans calling himself "Josh." "Worry about making yourself happy," he wrote. If the internet doesn't like it, he added, the internet can do something profane with itself.
And then there was the other side - Raymi the Minx was interesting because of Ms. White's honesty. By not posting about an important event, she was diluting the rawness that had created her online following. "Basically, I don't care," said Ms. White, perhaps facetiously, as she sipped from an early afternoon Coors Light in a pub a block from her new home. "What I talk about online is my business."
At least in the short term, the breakup appears to have done Ms. White some good. "My traffic is three times what it was when I was with Phil," she says. Breaking up may be hard to do, but for a blogger, apparently, it's good for business.
Special to The Globe and Mail