By Laura Trethewey
RARE AS IT IS TO MEET SOMEONE THESE DAYS WHOSE VEINS ARE NOT DIRECTLY HOOKED TO A MODEM, I have managed, against all odds, to date a string of men recently who have no Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Myspace (or any other derivative thereof). Each time this is revealed, I feel profound sense of relief. Actually, first what I feel is panic: What will I do when I get home and find myself unable to stoke my affection without his latest pithy status update or a check-in at a nearby café? (I <3 their scones, too!)
The pragmatic long view of the situation is much more optimistic: If/when this relationship fails, I won’t have to make the all-consuming decision of whether to cut Internet tabs on what he’s thinking, feeling, liking and attending at any given moment from here until eternity. It will already be done for me. “This is how people must have dated in the 90s,” I think to myself each time a fling sans-Facebook dwindles.
It’s sort of sick to watch the life of someone you used to care about tick by, one mundane status update at a time. “He/She is dead to me” is much more than dramatic dismissal; it’s essential to moving on. That person has to (figuratively) die until you are over them. (In no way does the author of this article endorse taking matters into your hands in a more literal sense.)
A while back, I found myself irked by the postings of an old boyfriend on his new girlfriend’s wall. This was someone whom I had long considered myself over and done with, but now my news feed was exploding with quirky stories he had sent to her, about wacky English translations on Japanese signs or the trials and tribulations of pandas giving birth in captivity. Suddenly the innocuous fodder of everyday news stories began to feel increasingly directed at a deeply troubling part of my life, namely why had I not found someone to both have sex with and share my offbeat interests?
I SPY, WITH MY LITTLE EYE…
The situation was made worse by the fact that this was a long-distance relationship, which meant the place where he and the new girlfriend hung out to talk about things was also a place where I hung out to talk about things: Facebook. In any other era of the world, eavesdropping on the conversation of a former lover would involve some duplicitous act, like hiding in the bushes outside his window. Today, it’s easy-peasy and can be done from the comfort of your very lonely home.
It soon became routine for me to sign into Facebook and feel like crap. This went on for a while, until I tried to get back in touch with the ex and do the whole let’s-try-to-be-friends conversation in hopes of neutralizing the aggravation I felt. But I was dusted. Worse, I hadn’t planned on this happening and when it did, Facebook then became so much more maddening to me. Not only was I forced to watch his burgeoning love online, I was also cut off from any real-life interaction. Friends called him a jerk. It didn’t help.
I decided to call the least technologically savvy person I know: My mother. I explained the situation, told her how crazy I felt watching his life online and then asked in trepidation whether I should do the unthinkable and play the only card I had left: Delete him and inadvertently admit that I was still hung up on him. My mom listened and then, in a voice almost verging on impatience, gave her assessment: “I have no idea how Facebook works, but yes, delete him.”
The moral of my story: Stop the crazy before it starts. Only date people who have never heard of Facebook.