The other day, when put out an open call for questions, lots of ladies (I like using the word ladies, but I hope you know I do it ironically) asked in one way or another what they should do about their boyfriends looking up exes on Facebook. Well, LADIES, I have an answer for you...
Facebook is one of the weirdest phenomena ever to hit my generation. (My generation being people in their thirties - to all you youngsters it's not that weird because you were born with iPhones attached to your brainstems.) All of a sudden, you have this incredible intimacy with people you haven't seen in twenty years, some of whom you were never that intimate with to begin with. You know whose kids puked last night. You know who loves oatmeal. (Seriously, someone wrote that this morning: I love oatmeal! I'm like: dude, who cares? I wouldn't even write that in my journal, let alone share it with all the five hundred people I know.) And you know who is battling depression (people are open about it) and obesity and divorce and great terrible grief. It's weird to be sitting at your desk eating your sun-dried tomato turkey wrap and suddenly see an outpouring of condolences for the girl you knew in second grade who lost her husband.
But basically, if I were going to name the application, I'd call it the ex-girlfriend app. (You could also call it the narcissism app or the social masturbation app, and I wouldn't argue.) In eras past, when men have lain in bed wondering what alternate lives they may have had, they were relegated to imagining those girlfriends of yore, conjuring images of them in their heads, looking all lithe and tan and pretty and whatnot. Only now you just have to type in her name and suddenly you can see pictures of her with her terrifying-looking three year-old and her very unfortunate bob haircut.
Here's my point. The option of searching out ex girlfriends and looking at pictures of them is irresistible. Even obsessing over them, and looking at all their photographs and reading all their mundane updates (oatmeal anyone?) can be irresistible. But that's not about wanting to be with them. It's about the passage of time. It's about the impossibility of squaring who you used to be with who you are now, the impossibility of fathoming exactly how long it's been and what that means.
And yeah, we want to know how good they look, too. But again, that doesn't mean we're arranging a secret weekend in Cabo for a little nostalgia bootie call.
Do you guys obsess about your exes on Facebook? Is it the same for women as it is for men? And are you OK if you find out your ex is all up in his exes status updates and photo albums?
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