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Facing Facebook

2014 March 25



One of the first pieces of concrete advice I got on the day after my breakup was to leave Facebook. No goodbyes, no status changes–just de-activate your profile and move on. So that’s what I did, that same day, and I haven’t looked back.

My self-imposed break from Facebook hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been all that difficult either. Having been a somewhat enthusiastic Facebook user for almost ten years now (sigh), I thought I would miss it, that I would feel irreparably disconnected and uninformed, but that really hasn’t been the case. Aside from missing out on some friends’ vacation photos and pictures of new babies and puppies, I haven’t felt the lack of Facebook in my everyday life. I was worried that when I moved to Boston, people wouldn’t hear the news or wouldn’t know how to reach me, but guess what? There are still many other ways for friends to communicate–texts, emails, Twitter, even phone calls! So I’ve had no lack of friendly support and social outings, all without navigating the complicated Facebook universe of status updates, “like” buttons, and onslaught of happy engagement announcements and wedding photos.

The last thing I want to be is that bitter person who resents others’ happiness, but when your husband leaves you one day for one of your closest friends with no explanation or warning–let’s just say that any chance of seeing interactions, photos, or even comments having to do with either of those two people is NOT welcome–nor are the happy honeymoon photos, Valentine’s declarations, and sonograms from your elementary school best friend’s older sister or the co-worker from your first job after college. Honestly, other peoples’ happiness is a little painful when all you can feel is confusion and sadness. Especially when two of those people have essentially kicked you down the stairs and scooped out your heart and threw it out onto the BQE for massive trucks to run over on the way to the Brooklyn Bridge.

So the advice to leave Facebook was good. And I still haven’t gone back. I will, and probably soon, but not because I miss it or feel the need to. I will go back because I’m not going to be afraid of others’ happiness anymore. Obviously, I’m going to do whatever I need to do to block anyone who’s caused me pain, but that doesn’t erase them from the world, from my memories, from my thoughts–so why keep hiding from this virtual place?

If Facebook were the only problem, life would be easier. But modern relationships and their wrecks are haunted by a litany of apps, social networks, and email histories.  It’s not enough that you have to contend with your own thoughts–there’s also Twitter, Instagram, Gmail, and even LinkedIn to throw unwanted reminders in your face at every turn. Just when you think you’ve deleted someone from every possible online platform, there’s an email from LinkedIn telling you to congratulate them on their new job (right) or a question from Gmail asking if you meant to include them on an email you’re writing (no, thanks).

That said, it’s also human nature to want to know what’s going on with the people you once loved and despite all of my logic and willpower, I sometimes cave and check those forbidden Instagram and Twitter feeds. And I’m never happy or satisfied when I do it, only more sad. It’s somewhat masochistic and a little thrilling, doing something I know I shouldn’t and will regret–but mostly it’s just extra hurt I don’t need. If only there was a way to block out this white noise of social media, but the Internet has no delete button, and neither do our brains.

I’m not sure what the point of all this is except to say that sometimes technology sucks and divorce sucks even more and if you’ve been through it, you know, and you’re not alone. But you shouldn’t have to hide. There are happy people out there, and someday, you will be one of them. And you’ll deserve it.



7 Responses Post a comment
  1. March 25, 2014

    Damn. Just reading this made me sad and angry on your behalf. I wish I had something more helpful to say. But you’re a great person and I’m so sorry you have to deal with all this. Best wishes.

  2. March 26, 2014

    Excellent post, and thank you for your openness. I think it’s totally reasonable to distance yourself from FB for a while–not just to avoid ex posts, but to protect your emotions in general as well. There’s nothing wrong with not being able to be super happy for everyone’s FB-happy-version-of-themselves. Looking forward to seeing you in real life, on the blog, and on any social media outlets you take part in.

  3. March 26, 2014

    When my longest/ “biggest” relationship came to a close, I hid him from my FB feed immediately. However, I still logged on to his account OFTEN – doing my best to put together pieces about what he was doing/seeing/how his life was evolving. Like you said in your post I always ended up feeling more depressed and sad after peeking. Finally (and I should admit that this took months) I had a moment when I was about to log on and check his page when I thought to myself, “why are you doing this to yourself?” Something about thinking that thought in that moment and realizing that I certainly shouldn’t be the person bringing more pain onto my already broken heart clicked (thank God) and I just stopped checking.

    You’re right that there is no delete button on the internet though…and I think navigating the best way to remove someone from your social media outlets takes time and patience. And even when you think you’ve removed/hid them from everywhere you could possibly think of they still pop up every once in awhile like an unlucky penny.

    GOOD LUCK! And should you decide to come back to FB, I’ll obviously be your friend. (As soon as I’m allowed back in myself since I gave it up for Lent.)

  4. Amy permalink
    March 26, 2014

    All things we like about Facebook can instantly become unbearable when the situation changes dramatically. It sounds like a clean break was the best thing, and smart advice to boot. Like so many modern trappings, when you cut it out you realize it’s not that hard to keep living your life without it. :) Just don’t leave Pinterest because my feed would be sad without you!

  5. Rebekah permalink
    March 27, 2014

    what great advice that great friend gave you!

    so I have never stopped checking my ex’s social media (one ex in particular from over FIVE YEARS AGO). like, on a daily basis. I don’t know why. the death drive? it’s totally pointless and only makes me feel bad. still to this day I don’t understand it and wish I could stop but i never have. I guess sometimes we just do shit that is bad for us. whatever.

  6. March 28, 2014

    I think it was a smart decision to step away from social media. I think more than the painful reminders, it’s also a distraction that can take time away from you that you need to heal.

  7. Lauren S permalink
    March 30, 2014

    Shit. This should be an online article somewhere.

    Much love, L

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