How Instagram Ruined My Night

Unsplash / Sergei Zolkin
Unsplash / Sergei Zolkin

All it takes is one moment.
One text message.
One chance encounter.
One reminder.
Just one. stupid. little. thing.

In my case, it was something as trivial and millennial as Instagram. God, that sounds lame. What kind of story starts with THAT? Can you even imagine? What if I just said, OH YES! It all started with Instagram…and then, oh, you wouldn’t believe it. It spiraled into casually running into my former lover with his new supermodel wife while we all vacationed in Paris! There I was, just eating a baguette and chunk of cheese all alone, and I saw them. No, wait, I’m allergic to gluten! I wouldn’t be eating a baguette!

BUT WOULDN’T THAT HAVE BEEN A BETTER STORY?!

Instead, I get Instagram. Stupid, trivial, little Instagram! (no offense, creators of Instagram.)

Maybe it’s funny; how everything can come crashing to a deafening halt with such ease. One second, you think you’ve got a definite handle on this life “thing” and then? Something topsy turvies that motherfucker!

I don’t know. That’s actually not funny at all, is it? Maybe I just laugh when I’m nervous and knowing he still twists my stomach into unimaginably painful knots makes me giggle, but not in the good way. In the “do I have internal bleeding right now?” kind of way. And that can’t be good. Feeling like I should rush my sudden lifeless body to the ER can’t possibly be funny.

Okay, maybe just a little.

I was listening to the latest Omarion album (Sex Playlist) and thinking, “Omarion! Man, I forgot about him! This album WOULD be a great sex playlist!” I was texting my best friend. She was joking about booking me for a private poetry gig, asking how much I charged. I offered to give her a discount, but that I would still expect money. These things don’t just come for free, I quipped. “Yoooo, my creativity can’t be free ALL the time!”

I switched over to Damien Rice because I thought, “Okay, enough of the sexual Omarion jams, let’s have some feely-feels!” I texted my friend another joke. She texted back a full caps “HAHAHA” (the true sign of success) and I was feeling good. My little sister was in the other room and I could faintly hear her singing some made up song, “Butt, butt, butt. Everyone has a butt!”

It was a typical, average, boring night.

And then, there it was. The notification that plucks your heart in some uncomfortable way and you feel memories clawing up your throat.

I saw it. The small thumbnail of his face. His username. He “liked” my photo. A pretty average photo at that: a box of cookies.

A stream of the least chill questions buzzed through my head: Why did he like a photo from 9 weeks ago? Did he just scroll through everything? Did he decide to randomly click on the photo of cookies? Was this all a mistake?! Should I text him?



I felt dizzy. I wanted to check my blood pressure. I wanted to shout, “IS ANYONE HERE A DOCTOR?!” And though this might be hard to believe, my eight year old sister who was singing her “Butt” song does NOT have a medical degree. No doctors present. Just me, Instagram, and his stupid face.

His stupidly cute face.

We can spend so much time and effort pretending it’s okay. And sometimes? It is. We push forward in life because that’s what life requires of us. Things will hurt and bones will break, but we keep going. We just keep trudging on, even if it sucks and hurts and we’re so afraid our broken pieces will remain forever broken.

But time passes and we notice the bruises have lightened. It gets easier and, dare I say it, better. It gets better.

And then something brings you right back down. The smallest of notifications took my heart with it, plunging it into a frenzy of nostalgia and desperation.

I was okay! I was fine! I was humming right along! I wasn’t thinking about his stupidly cute face.

That stupidly cute face.

All it takes is one “like” to remind you of everything you tried so hard to forget. I tried so hard to forget you. I wrote a book. I dated someone. I kissed someone else.

But with the smallest of gestures, I’m instantly reminded of how hard I was convincing the entire world I was fine. I was working so hard to prove if I saw you again, I’d be okay. I wouldn’t crumble and cry and try to figure out why you didn’t love me back. I wouldn’t be pathetic. I wouldn’t be this shell of a woman I once knew.

But I see that stupidly cute face and my heart lurches all over again. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Ari Eastman

✨ real(ly not) chill. poet. writer. mental health activist. mama shark. ✨

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