It’s become blatantly clear over the past few years that I will never be able to get rid of my exes: ex-boyfriends, ex-lovers and even ex-friends. To our parents, it was as simple as just not talking to someone again, and eventually, the memory of him or her went away. However, that just doesn’t apply to the Connected Generation.
We are forever linked to our past via social media and through our connected devices. You may still be friends with them on Facebook (if they haven’t blocked you or were forced to by their signifiant others) or thanks to the cloud you haven’t been able to figure out how to permanently delete their number from your phone. Even if you’ve gone to the extreme of blocking them on all social media, they can still see things that live on the internet. They can stalk your Instagram if it is public, or see something you liked on Facebook through a mutual friend, impulsively watch a your Snapchat story, or not realize they didn’t change their privacy settings on LinkedIn and not-so-secretly look at your profile.
With just a click of a button or a few taps of a finger, you can find out almost anything someone has been up to. Our parents are lucky in some ways that they don’t have a virtual trail to their past that also intersects with the present. With a quick Google search, it's amazing the things you can find.
I admit it, I’ve done it. I've looked. Does that make me weak? Does it mean I still care? Does this person still have a hold on me? And every time I do it, I vow never to look again. At least, not until the next time.
There is an overwhelming temptation to look, just to see what they are doing. Do you even really care? Are you looking because you’re bored? Or simply because you can? I couldn’t tell you why I do it. But I do it and it bothers me. I shouldn’t want to look back. There are times when I do and it makes me laugh and it reminds me exactly why I’m not with that person and never will be again. Sometimes I get pissed off at what I find. So what does it mean?
Try as we might to move on in this day and age, the internet has made it damn near impossible to completely remove someone from our lives. And maybe we aren’t supposed to. The virtual trail of breadcrumbs serves as a solid reminder of how far we’ve come, where we are going, and that it’s okay to leave some things behind. We have all the information we could want at our fingertips, but only we can decide what path to take next. By not looking for too long at the path behind us, we open ourselves up to a new path. But if you do decide to occasionally lurk in the shadows of the internet, just be careful... because it sure does suck to get caught.