There are many reasons to regret clicking into Instagram. Blurry sunsets. Other people’s bottle service. Jake Antonoff. And sometimes, your ex. Perhaps the breakup was amicable. You’re both better off. You wish her only good things. Well, maybe some mediocre things–you know like Maxwell House Coffee or dildos that melt in the dishwasher–but mostly good things. Yet spotting an image of an attractive girl on her Instagram feed can lodge like an arrow in your breastbone, visual proof that you’re through. It’s one thing for an ex to put on a gentle expression, lean casually across the table at a cafe and say, “Oh, by the way, I’m seeing someone.” It’s a whole other experience to see for yourself the person she’s seeing. Especially when you’re innocently drinking your own Maxwell House coffee, perusing the internet to start your day.
So what are the breakup rules in this age of social media? What responsibilities do we have? How do we keep ourselves and each other emotionally safe? I’m no expert, but that didn’t stop me from performing open heart surgery the other evening. It certainly won’t stop me from sharing this list.
Six Tips for Surviving a Break Up in the Age of Social Media
1. Think before you post.
Important in any social media situation, but essential after a break-up. Say it with me: the impulsive post is no one’s friend. Especially on Twitter where John Stamos just might be watching (Please, if there is a God.), ask yourself how your posts make you look. If the answer is desperate, pathetic or like James Franco, keep that thought in your head where it’s safe.
2. Create filters on Facebook.
Want to be honest about your life without mutual friends ferrying your thoughts right back to your ex? Create a filter for friends with mixed allegiance. That way, you can post about your burgeoning relationship or newfound sleep-eating episodes without anyone becoming a reluctant go-between.
3. Don’t perform your life, live it.
Maybe your ex always refused to hit the batting cages with you, she rolled her eyes each time you suggested coordinating a flashmob at the DMV. Doing the things you felt the relationship got in the way of is always a great way to heal, but rather than documenting every moment for her benefit, try simply experiencing. Life your life for yourself, not for her.
“Ugh, she’s having a great time at the Melissa Etheridge show with her new Facebook friend?”
“I know! I’ll write that I’m in the front row and could swear Melissa just winked at me.”
4. Avoid passive aggressive updates (i.e. vague-booking).
Sure, it’s tempting to use social media to deliver coded messages, but anything truly worth saying to your ex deserves a phone call. You don’t need five hundred friends wondering what you meant when you wrote “You don’t know me cause you’re dead wrong/What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”#thingsrlookinup #michaeljfoxissostrong #teenwolfrules”
5. Remember, everything looks better in LowFi.
You’re sitting home, surprisingly turned on by that South Park scissoring episode, while she’s dewy cheeked, bright eyed and post-coital-glowing all over some trendy gastropub. It’s not that she’s found true love or even a quality face cleanser, it’s a goddamn filter. Real life will never looks as prettily pre-packaged as an Instagram pic. Snap a picture of your TV screen, add a filter and voila, South Park becomes an advance copy of Blue is the Warmest Color. Such is the magic of Instagram.
6. If possible, discuss before you unfriend.
No one on the planet is with me on this one, but no one thought I could perform that heart transplant either. I say unfriending someone without warning just seems hurtful. I’d recommend hiding your ex instead. However, Facebook can make this next to impossible. If your ex posts yet another picture of some goats making friends with a lobster or some bullshit article about the secret to happiness, and a mutual buddy likes it, that’s showing up on your news feed. Depending on your tolerance level for strange animal friendships/other people telling you how to live your life/your ex, consider sending her a polite note letting her know you hope to be friends in the future, but right now it’s best just to cut social media ties. #enoughwiththegoatsalready!
“Is her hand on that girl’s ass?”
7. Don’t lie about what you’re doing.
You’re on the phone with your mom, wearing your red snuggie and working on your night cheese. Resist the urge to tweet “Eating fondue and snuggling with my red hot mama, could life get any better?” In the end, you’ll only make yourself feel worse.
****Special impulse control section: A quick list of options for those who can’t keep their hands off their feeds.
Install parental control software.
Wear mittens at all times so your touch screen won’t work.
Hire someone to chain you to a radiator a la Christina Ricci in Black Snake Moan.
Throw your phone in the lake. And your computer. And all the computers at the public library.
Invest in a sensory deprivation tank.
Move to China.
Instigate a fight that will result in your arms being broken by asking a particularly large and humorless Indigo Girls fan which one is Amy Ray.
Go to Urban Dictionary. Type in “fire sale.” Proceed accordingly.
Tape bread crumbs to your eyelids and stand on a subway platform waiting for pigeons.
Get arrested for smuggling drug money into the U.S. for Laura Prepon.
Take out a cyber restraining order…on yourself.