Previous generations got to break up with people and never had to see the jerks again. A hundred years ago, if you were lucky your cheater rode the rails out of town to Butte, Montana and fell down a mining shaft.
Unfortunately, you’d never get to enjoy that particular bit of schadenfreude. However, you wouldn’t have to spend the next five years getting his Facebook updates either. The photoshopped selfies. The parties you weren’t invited to. The adoring, clueless idiots that comprise his coterie.
Our great-grandmothers didn’t have to watch their ex-boyfriends flirt on social media. The founding fathers never rated their hotness and tweeted about it. No, the days of glorious anonymity and social isolation are gone. If you want to know what someone’s up to now, you can usually find out. Now it’s up to a chump to exert self-control. You want to untangle the skein? There’s tantalizing clues everywhere on social media.
He said he dumped me because he has to take his studies more seriously, but he just tweeted that he’s taking a two-week vacation to Cancun!
She’s been dating him a YEAR? This is their anniversary? We’ve only been divorced FOUR MONTHS!
Holy shit, they have a CHILD together? Is that, is that my grandmother’s crocheted afghan in the background? HE TOOK MY FUCKING HEIRLOOM BABY BLANKET FOR HIS SKANK?
Social media is not your friend, chumps. Please, just go and let these people be dead to you.
Look, I know the occasional hits of schadenfreude are irresistible and keep you coming back for more. He’s gained 60 lbs. She got a shitty Christmas present when she was expecting a ring. He’s living in his mother’s basement. She cheated on her new schmoopie. He got fired… I get it — it’s one thing to trust that they suck. It’s so delicious to see it confirmed.
But it’s still energy you’re directing at them. It’s still mental real estate they don’t need to be taking up. You’re better than this.
And face it, for every nugget of schadenfreude you unearth, you’ll also have to suffer the onslaught of their impression management. The feigned fabulous can rock the sturdiest of chumps. Boy, he looks so happy now. Maybe it was me. Maybe I suck? Or the injustice will eat at you — how come SHE gets a vacation and shiny new things and I’m paying for it as I eat soup alone in my studio apartment?
Look, narcissists need impression management and social media is narcissist crack. It’s the ME channel! 24/7 access to ME! If you tune into your cheater’s Me Channel, you’re playing their game. Believing their spin, or at least wondering about it. (All kibbles are good kibbles!) The narcissist wants to project — aren’t you jealous? Aren’t I all that? Or they want to project normalcy. See how cute and banal I am? I have a pet. I have a mom. She’s having surgery. I like the same movies you like! I scored 1400 milking shorthorns on Farmville!
You know they’re freaks. You know where the skeletons are. So why are you reading the propaganda?
Seriously, WHY? To get incensed? Oh sure, prattle on about pixelated dairy cows, you bitch. I know you fucked my husband! What good is this information to you?
I suppose you could make a thin argument that you have children together and you need to know what your ex-spouse is up to. But do you REALLY? Do you really need the details?
Look, I like Facebook. Especially the baby pictures. The most distant acquaintance can have a baby and I’m all Like! Like! Like! I enjoy my cousin’s accomplishments. I share the occasional grumpy cat meme. Facebook has its place. It just doesn’t have any place in your recovery.
So let’s just pretend your cheaters all fell down a mineshaft, okay? Keep it old school.
This column ran previously.