A breakup is like twisting an oreo cookie with a partner. One person is indubitably escapes with most of the proverbial cream filling, while the other person is left with various smudges of their dignity clinging to an empty chocolate wafer. I am the raw cookie. Whatever was shared between us, she took most of it with her.
The internet, and namely social media is slowly killing me. In the wake of a breakup, as the one broken I am left wondering constantly as to where she is or what she is doing. But thanks to Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and twitter I know exactly. I know what she ate, I know what music she’s been listening to. But it’s not really her. The internet makes no mention of the pile of dirty clothes on her floor, or the way she grinds her teeth when she sleeps, or the way she’ll stubbornly believe anything her gut tells her to, regardless of the copious amounts of proof to the contrary.
There’s a study published in the Newyorker: How Facebook Makes us Unhappy naming the “social comparison” we feel when we look at others on the internet, measuring the satisfaction and the happiness in our lives compared to the lives of others. Social comparison is kicking my ass. The internet provides a 24 hour voyeuristic view into her personal life. At my weakest moments, when I am the most alone, her whole life can be sprawled out in front of me on a glowing screen. Only it’s not her whole life, it is the “best-of” reel of everything she’s ever done or experienced. Each glossy photo is meticulously chosen among many. The one where her hair falls perfectly. The one where the light catches her face just right. The one where her breasts look heavenly. It’s a clean and tidy storefront of exactly the life she wants to portray. It’s ribbons and lace. It’s perfume and polish. And my aching heart, battered and bruised as it is becomes all the more damaged each time I look.
Twenty years ago this wasn’t a problem. Maybe a friend would see her out somewhere, and that would get passed back along eventually, but for the most part people were left alone with their thoughts to mourn. In this modern day and age, all of the internet works against me.
The ideal solution is to just not look. To put it all away and think of this as a growing moment. But I know I can’t shut out the internet. It travels with me in my pocket, it courses through my television set, and sits atop my lap at night. Lap – top. It takes a second of weakness in the dark of my bed and I can have her prettiest face in front of me on my tiny screen clutched in my hand. I can’t beat it. My own curiosity eats me alive on the daily. So instead I will counter it.
I can remember that it’s also this face:
…and who she really is, is somewhere in between these two extremes. Not the perfect made-up fantasy the internet and my imagination has created to haunt me. But the girl I took out to eat sushi with no makeup on Halloween because we were sick. Someone human and flawed, full of perfect imperfections. This is going to be my fighting chance for maintaining my own sanity in an otherwise insane time. Wish me luck.