If you say you’ve never stalked an ex on Facebook, you’re lying. Trust me, I know.
The stalking started out innocently enough. Before I dated my ex, it was a way to gather information. Then, once we made things official, it was a way of checking in on him. After our explosive breakup – one that would make even Brad and Jennifer look civil – it was a way of tracking who he was hanging out with, whether or not he missed me and of course, if he was dating again.
Somewhere along the way, it became part of my daily routine. And then, all of a sudden we’d been broken up for a million years and we’re both happily married, yet I still find myself looking at his page.
Somewhere between the beginning of my days on Facebook – circa 2007 – and now, I’ve turned Facebook stalking into quite a craft. To be fair, it isn’t just my ex. It’s my sworn enemy from high school, a girl another ex cheated on me with, a few friends I’ve had falling outs with and whomever else I decide to keep up with at the moment.
Recently, someone made the comment that I must not be over the ex if I’m still looking at his Facebook and I actually laughed. Of course I’m over it. In fact, despite our torturous (and slightly bloody) ending, I actually wish the kid well. If it wasn’t for that toxic relationship, I wouldn’t have been able to find and appreciate my current husband. But that someone brought up a good point: if that’s the case, why am I still looking?
Even though it was really an innocent habit – something that was as much a part of my daily routine as washing my face or brushing my teeth – I realized that it’s a toxic habit. I’ve given up smoking and drinking soda, so why not give up keeping up with people who are so far in the past that I have no business knowing what they’re up to?
So I made the rule: no more ex stalking. No more enemy stalking. No more finding out what people are up to unless it’s genuinely out of friendly curiosity. And almost overnight, it was like a weight lifted off my shoulders.
It’s hard for people in our parent’s generation to understand our constant litany of communication. That perpetual communication means that making a clean break is almost impossible – even if you delete that person and never speak to them again, chances are your friends are still friends with them and their name will come up in conversation. And when the dust finally settles and you’ve both moved on, what better way to show it than to accept their friend request?
It makes for a really confusing limbo – it isn’t even that I don’t like this person. I’m apathetic to this person, but the only way I can show it is to be connected to them. But then I find myself in my twenties still laughing at someone I hated when I was sixteen because she has two baby daddies and works at a grocery store or mourning a friendship that’s been over for years because I’m reminded once again of how much it sucks to grow apart from people. Who’s really the pathetic one here? In case you missed it, me. I’m the pathetic one.
So I instituted a ban – no more social media stalking, period. You’d think it’d be difficult to kick the habit, but it’s actually been one of the easiest to get rid of. You see, now that I’m not looking anymore, I have no reason to think of these people. I’ve got no negative thoughts surrounding them. I’ve finally, once and for all, moved on with my life.
And if they happen to pop up in my news feed? With almost 2,000 friends, it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, the curiosity that once compelled me to keep tabs on them constantly is just…gone.
So who are you stalking on Facebook? A crush? An ex? Lots of exes? Be real with yourself. We’ve all done it, but we don’t need to. There’s something to be said for a clean break. In the spirit of taking better care of yourself and being a better person, I encourage you to put pettiness and bitterness aside and use social media to connect instead to healthy relationships with people you love. Use that ten minutes a day to paint your nails, read a Bible verse, do some yoga poses, play with your dog, whatever.
Your life is here and now. You’re only taking away from your own happiness by living in the past.