Breaking up is hard to do, so the 60’s pop song goes. But, in this 21st century world, breaking up is made that bit more difficult. Sure, the old rite of passage of crying into an ice cream tub hasn’t been phased out; since the creation of Ben & Jerry’s, this is an even more satisfactory mode of emotional healing. But what previous generations experienced of heartbreak was much less severe than what we do now, for one simple reason: the internet.
Sure, the initial breakup is painful. The ‘it’s not you, it’s me’, the dump-by-text, the cutting off of communication. But the real pain comes when you start to obsess over your one-time beau’s social-networking activity. Who is that posting on their wall? Why have they started ‘liking’ that girl’s photos on Instagram? And how are you meant to feel when you are informed of their new relationship status…with someone else? You can ruin your day just because you come across something that you don’t want to see.
Once upon a time, you would have to be a skilled stalker in order to access so much information about your ex. Now, even though we- most of us- are able to refrain from turning up outside our ex’s house (guitar and thunderstorm appropriate but not entirely necessary) in the middle of the night, we might as well have a permanent vantage point outside their bedroom window through obsessively following them on a few social networks. This is something akin to self-flagellation.
So it begs the question: how are you supposed to get over someone when constantly bombarded with ambiguously hurtful information about their lives? The answer is, to be completely blunt, you can’t. I’m not for one minute suggesting it is abnormal to have someone on your mind; I will truly endorse the old cliche that your first love will always linger in some dark corner of your heart. And if you have shared a number of memories with anyone, then they are bound to cross your mind a lot. But it is artificial to have someone on your mind because Facebook tells you to. You might, with ease, fight fire with fire and engage in an immature campaign to stir your ex’s jealousy. But if you have once cared about them, this tactic will provide no lasting satisfaction at all. There’s no point in trying to hurt each other. All you should be focussing on is self-preservation.
So here is what I propose. Unfollow and unsubscribe: the facilities are there for you to do this quite easily. It is like pulling off a band-aid: a little painful, but necessary. You might think that you are losing your connection with your ex, but it is much more apt to think of it as preserving your (hopefully, still fairly pleasant) memory of them without clouding it with the misunderstandings and resentment. And yes, you might wonder, and even have the odd drunken stumble across their profile. But banishing their influence from your everyday life is absolutely essential to moving on. In the mean time, I prescribe Bob Dylan’s ‘Blood On The Tracks’ and a bowl of Cherry Garcia. It really is a highly-underrated Ben & Jerry’s flavour.
Until next time,