Facebook stalking. Twitter profile skimming. Drive-by blog reading.
We all do it for our ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, our ex-wives and husbands. But what about our ex-friends. Or friends we don’t even know are our exes yet?
I got to thinking about all of this after reading a piece in New York Magazine about how my generation never really breaks up with our exes in the way our parents did. There is no “I wonder what happened to” moments of thinking because all it takes is a quick Facebook search, or a little creative Googling and the answer is there.
That is, of course, assuming you have already deleted their messages from your phone, or your email, and everywhere else these people of our pasts live digitally.
Of course, that piece was written more about romantic or sexual encounters, not so much for platonic friends, or those you thought you were still friends with.
Last week it was reported that Facebook makes us feel worse about ourselves (a quick Google finds that studies such as this are released every couple months, so put as much stock in that as you want). These two stories began to make me think.
The former is talking about people we know are out of our lives, or supposed to be anyways. Sure, there are the ex-boyfriends and ex-friends of mine that I casually check up on every now and then because I know their Twitter usernames, or because their Facebook profiles are still public because they don’t understand privacy settings.
But then there are the people who are currently in one’s life. Who you would refer to as a friend, who suddenly aren’t.
No more drinks or dinner spent together. Casual plans made, but never really followed through on. No more parties or celebrations. You’re cut out of their lives, but kept as a Facebook friend, so you still see all of these things happening that you’re no longer a part of.
Fear of missing out? Sure, FOMO comes into play here, but this is something deeper.
A generation ago, you and your friends would grow apart as you got older, or as life changed. It was no one’s fault really, just what happens as we grow as human beings. It would be so gradual, you wouldn’t even notice it had happened until a “I wonder what ever happened to…” thought would pop into your head.
Happy stories like this would end with reaching out to your old friend and having dinner or drinks while catching up on what was missed. It would be as no time ever passed.
That doesn’t often happen anymore.
Instead, you watch your friendships slide further away. See happy pictures of (former) friends at parties, at life, in Facebook albums and on Instagram in ’70s-era filters. They’re all there. But you’re not.
It’s not malicious. It’s not like they’re trying to make you feel lesser-than. Life has just happened and you’ve both gone different ways.
All of my exes may live in texts, but my (former) friends live on my Facebook newsfeed.