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.