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A woman spent months 'soft-launching' her divorce on social media — and says the game helped her cope

collage of screenshots from @sierraontiktok's tiktok about soft-launching divorce on social media
Sierra Gonsalves preempted her divorce with a soft-launch online.TikTok;@sierraontiktok
  • Sierra Gonsalves, 28, has been "soft-launching" her divorce on Instagram for months.

  • In a viral TikTok "hard launch" she recounted the easter eggs as a treat for nosy people everywhere.

  • "Am I a celebrity? No. Am I an influencer? No. Do my followers care? Probably not, but this was fun for me, and it helped me cope a little bit."

Sierra Gonsalves, 28, took a novel approach to the end of a relationship — rather than make a bold announcement about the breakup, Gonsalves "soft-launched" her divorce over the last several months, and chronicled the Easter eggs and hints she'd been dropping in a now-viral TikTok.

In what she dubbed an "ode to anyone that's been following the breadcrumbs," Gonsalves began soft-launching —subtly dropping hints about the split — by leaving her partner out of Instagram stories and photo dumps. It progressed to gradually archiving photos of them together, "so I wouldn't raise suspicion" and then posting pointed Reductress articles and funny memes.

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"Am I a celebrity? No. Am I an influencer? No," she told almost 300,000 viewers in a May 17 TikTok. "Do my followers care? Probably not, but this was fun for me, and it helped me cope a little bit."

Gonsalves told Insider she knew people would notice her ex-husband's absence — they'd been together for more than six years and it had been a long time since she'd posted a photo of just herself. If they were going to speculate, she wanted to "make a fun little game out of it."

"Now that everyone has found my account," Gonsalves told viewers, "Hi, I'm getting divorced." It was the first time she'd said it out loud on her account.

Gonsalves, who'd been married for eleven months, said the process helped her regain some of the control she felt she'd lost in an unexpected heartbreak — and defy the shame and stigma that can accompany divorce.

Instagram, where her followers include personal connections that go back to high school, felt serious and intimate. TikTok, on the other hand, was a playground of "silly, lighthearted stuff." When she worried about overtaxing her friends or felt lonely later at night, she could vent by making "little videos on the internet" for her community of followers.

Keeping the divorce a secret, Gonsalves said, had been "essentially eating me alive." Sharing it publicly, via a de-facto scavenger-hunt-reveal video, made it easier to breathe.

"Every time I talk about it, or anytime I make a video about it," Gonsalves said, "it gets a little bit easier just by making that statement."

The response has been overwhelming. Gonsalves was nervous about receiving an avalanche of sympathy, but she was delighted to find something better: lots of "Congratulations."

"One of the first comments I got — instead of being like, 'Oh my god, I'm so sorry," was: 'Congratulations, happy people don't get divorced.'"

The end of a marriage can feel like "the world is ending," Gonsalves said, but she wants anyone going through something similar to understand that it's not. "Unfortunately, it happens. And there is a giant community of people that understand everything that you're going through at this exact moment — there are support groups you can go to, and there are plenty of people on #DivorceTok. There should be no shame; it's just something that wasn't meant to work."

"I feel like people try to hide divorces as much as they can," Gonsalves said. "But, you can't really hide it. People are going to notice that person is gone. I figured I might as well make it fun — If I get a laugh about it, then that's good enough for me. If someone also wants to join in and laugh, that's a bonus."

Read the original article on Insider