Lam Thuy Vo was married for two years. She has been separated from her husband for four months. In the meantime, she’s kept a blog called the Quantified Breakup, which uses information from her online presence as an attempt to explain her heartbreak.
Working as an interactive editor in Brooklyn, Vo told Fast Company that she examines data all day. A friend suggested that she take this approach to her breakup; the idea was that quantification might allow her some reprieve from the emotional distress and allow her to see her heartache in terms of patterns and trends. Vo writes:
Divorce is hard. Putting this process into numbers, images and data visualizations is helpful. It yanks me out of these all-consuming moments of sadness and helps me understand how, perhaps as time passes, things are going to be ok in the long run (looking for positive trends within the data!)
It’s fascinating how much artistry and emotional insight comes from raw data with Vo’s presentation. In a post called Random Acts of Movement, she uses Google Maps to track her routes whenever she needed to aimlessly escape from her empty apartment. In the context of this break-up blog, the there-and-back lines, the circular path has a sad symbolism.
An iPhone can map your runs, monitor your sleep, track your social life, and locate a hookup; heartbreak, however, seems like something it’s not equipped to handle. Vo’s project is an interesting twist on the quantified-living approach to self-improvement through data. There’s no way to make a breakup more efficient or get used to sleeping alone any faster — but Vo’s project seems like a comment on the limits of self-knowledge.
Fast Company reports that Vo hopes she can use the blog to move on as well and “start doing something about dating, about love. And then you can see a journey out of misery into happiness.”