Lurking Never Made It Better

Lurking Never Made It Better

I often wonder how different I would have turned out had social media been around when I was at my most vulnerable. As an abused child who turned into a confused and angry teenager, I try to imagine how the age of the internet would have altered my personality. For as punk rock as I projected, a large portion of that was for self-preservation. If I couldn’t be a part of what I saw around me – that sense of “normalcy”, well then I would go the other way and shoot spite and venom at anyone whose lives I envied.

On one hand, there are amazing strangers online who can give an identity and sense of community to those of us who wouldn’t, couldn’t, and never did fit in. We could read the blog of a kid living in the shadows of his small town and find solace in their words or a message board filled with people who would be more than willing to listen to our damage. And dear lord, I can’t imagine what that would have done for my head at the age of 14. But on the other hand, there are so many people out there willing to strike at a person’s attempt to be vulnerable. Angry people just looking for an opportunity to crush your creativity. People who are insecure so they lash out with the mentality of – if I don’t have, well, you can’t have. And that would have killed what little strength I had as an extremely sensitive adolescent. But who knows, maybe it would have tempered me in ways I could never imagine. But to dwell on this is pointless.

What I can say for sure, is that social media would have drove me crazy knowing my ex-girlfriend had a Facebook/twitter/instagram/blog/vine, etc. Because I would have checked their status and pictures on a regular basis and it would have driven me up a wall. I had the benefit of only being able to get in touch with my exs via telephone. And if they didn’t answer, I had no idea what was going on in their life. But that was definitely for the best. I really didn’t need to know or see or hear any passive/aggressive posts or see what new guys they were hanging out with or read their new relationship status update. The best part of growing up before the internet was when you ended a relationship – they were simply out of sight, out of mind.

We no longer have that luxury. It doesn’t matter where they are, if they have a social media profile, we can dip in and dip out with all the information we can dig up. We can cross-reference their lives through mutual friend accounts or see their friends of friends and where they have been tagged.

But I say that as if this is simply a teenage issue, when it is far from. Adults – people who are married, on their second marriages, with children, even some with grand-children, lurk their exs. They click around so diligently, that they won’t stop until they find something. And by no means am I exempt. I understand that 2am desire. The curiosity just burning away at your brain, doing everything it can to keep you awake. And as your head lies on that pillow, all you can think is – what are they doing right now? Are they at the bar or the club or at her house? Are they uploading pictures of fingers entwined on the couch? Are they at the movies? Who are they with? Are they thinking about me? Are they even sad that I’m not there? Maybe if I stalk them I can find a piece of information that will satiate that curiosity because goddamnit, I need to sleep.

I’m not saying it’s right – but I understand.

And maybe it was easier back in my day of walking uphill in the snow both ways. Maybe there is something to be said about leaving sleeping dogs lie. Because wounds don’t heal if you keep picking at them. You can’t learn to let go and begin the moving on process if you’re constantly obsessing over the life of someone who isn’t yours anymore. And I can tell you this for certain – absolutely nothing positive has ever come out of lurking your ex. Sure, maybe in brief moments of relief when you see that he is posting a picture of him and his dog with the hashtag #aloneforever. But really, does that benefit you in any healthy way or does it simply give you a shallow moment of satisfaction?

The best way to begin the process of healing is to allow yourself to move on and away. You owe it to yourself to put that space between you and the pain so you can focus on you. Even if it is just feeling sorry for yourself and not showering for days and binge watching shows on Netflix, we all need our healing time. Simple alone nights crying under covers are important and strangely effective ways of coping. But you have to let that wound heal if you ever want to be a walking, talking, and laughing member of society again. And you can’t spend hours constantly refreshing their profiles while you carefully dissect each picture looking for stray hair ties or women’s shoes in the background. You will heal much faster if you give yourself space and your wounds will heal quicker if you stop poking at them. So just leave it alone. Write. Start a secret blog with all your fears and resentment and pain. Write embarrassing teenage poetry if it relieves some of that anger. But whatever you do, just know that for each day you check their profiles, you set yourself back two.

No one is saying it’s easy. But it’s what’s right, what is healthy, and what is important if you want to begin the healing process.

About author

Christopher Gutierrez

Christopher Gutierrez is the author of several books on love, sex, and relationships. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Deep End, in addition to running Deadxstop Publishing. Since 2006, he has given hundreds of speakings at colleges, coffee houses and universities all over the world.

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