Back in the day, you would break up with someone and wave them farewell forever. Perhaps you would bump into them awkwardly at the supermarket or a friend would say, "I heard they have a new girlfriend. She's probably hingin'" *
You'd hear through the grapevine that they'd moved to Africa or got engaged to your best friend from school (both of those things have happened to me...). You would have imaginary confrontations with them in the shower and move on.
(*"Hingin'" is a Scottish word for "ugly". Every day is a school day.)
But sadly, thanks to social media, there is no blissful ignorance. I was seeing someone at the beginning of last year and after six months of dragging him behind me like an anchor made of skinny jeans and hair gel, I finally finished it. I met Mike and moved 60 miles away so I could begin the next six months of my life; the ones where I've been the happiest ever.
In the summer, after Mr Skinny Jeans had been telling me for weeks he would NEVER GET OVER ME, EVER, he met someone else (I can't help it that men are constantly in love with me, it's such a curse). I couldn't believe it! How dare he! Before social media, I would have known nothing about this woman. After a 30 second search on instagram, I know where she lives, where she goes to college and that she doesn't eat sugar (I know, ew).
Now, I don't want this guy back. I have zero interest in him. But social media can make us care about stuff that we would have been better not knowing in the first place. It seems to be especially a girl thing- we don't want the guy any more but we sure as hell don't want him to be with someone prettier than us. Or funnier. Or more intelligent. We basically don't want her to have any redeeming qualities at all.
When I met Mike, he was just getting over someone who had emotionally manipulated him for years. Luckily, I came along at the right time but it was at the height of my anxiety and depression and I became obsessed with her, convinced she was going to come back and steal Mike away from me.
Instead of slowly forgetting about her, social media gave me something to fixate on. It was the most unhealthy behaviour pattern I could have fallen into. Mike must have thought I was mad when I was bringing up comments he'd left on her instagram literally years ago. I just acted like a total crazy person.
When I read Sophia Amoruso's book #GirlBoss, it changed my life. She had an amazing suggestion when it came to people you don't like or care about: Don't think about them.
You probably can't believe that this was a revolutionary idea for me, but it really was! Every time Mike's not-really-ex-slash-manipulating-shrew-slash-witch popped into my head I thought, "Pfft, I don't need to think about her! And Mr Skinny Jeans? Who cares! I dumped him! He's almost 29 and still lives with his mum!"
If you have a unhealthy habit for social media stalking, just cut that shit out. You are too busy taking over the world to have room in your brain for negative people. Next time you're going to hit that search button for an ex or nemesis, just don't.