We all go through them at some point. How each of us chooses to navigate them varies. Some morph into workout-beasts and replace emotional pain with physical, just to attain that fleeting endorphin high. Then we have the wallowers who camp out on their couch, pint of Ben and Jerry’s in hand, box of Kleenex on the table and Casablanca on Netflix. Party animals will dance and drink it all away, hoping the first rando club make-out session they have will somehow suck the pain out of them via their mouth.
Regardless of how we choose to deal, there is one thing all of us in our 20s to early 30s have in common. It’s something our parents, older siblings, and every generation before ours can’t possibly understand. It is a product of our own making, a game changer that every generation following ours will be forced to cope with.
It is the downright evil combination of social networking and failed romances.
I’m not even just referring to your Facebook photo graveyard of that five minute relationship you had with whatshisface, or trips down memory lane on your blog.
For some reason, we twentysomethings feel the need to share every second of our lives. From 140 character or less thoughts, outfits of the day, destinations, and thousands of self portraits, to (what should be) very intimate relationships. As a culture, we love to hate over-exposing ourselves.
Years of living this way has created some bizarre habits. Suddenly this generation’s creepy penchant for instastalking, facestalking, tumbl-creeping, etc has become the norm. These behaviors have effectively turned break-ups into an unrecognizable, nightmarish version of what they once were.
Worse, I’m not entirely sure many of us truly take issue with this. That inherent masochistic urge to look up an ex resides within most people. The temptation to see if your ex is as sad as you are, or maybe what your replacement looks like lies dormant for a bit, and then rears it’s ugly head. Then maybe it spreads to your boyfriend’s ex, because you need hard evidence that you are an upgrade. Suddenly you find yourself habitually creeping on Ex/Boyfriend’s Ex/Girlfriend 2.0. Disgusted, you swear never to look again.
But fingers have minds of their own. Breaking the habit of indulging your morbid curiosity to view the life or lives that have gone on without you is next to impossible.
And so here we are. Forty years ago, when my father broke up with his last girlfriend before he met my mother, he walked away wounded, but stringless. No claws in him, no eyes on her. To stalk someone, you had to stand outside their house and risk police intervention. The internet, social networking sites, blogging- all of it has made break-ups into something most of us are not emotionally equipped to contend with. Where have the days of moving on gone? Why have we accepted that it is normal to be stalked by ex lovers, ex lovers of lovers, lovers of our ex lovers?
Why are we content to be forever haunted by ghosts of our past?