Facebook: Why do you torment me so?

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Breaking up is hard to do ... on Facebook, says Sam Elliott

Facebook, which does so much to bring people together, can be a veritable nightmare when they break up, writes Samuel Elliott.

Around my birthday last year, my girlfriend of two years, whom I thought was the one, decreed that we were done, ending the bold statement with the exclamation point of sleeping with someone else.

I didn’t take it well, the ensuing months could only have been classified as an unmitigated nightmare, of which I am only now starting to rise from the smouldering wreckage. I’m not well-versed in break ups and this has been an epic trial by fire. 

From the outset, I had the same piece of advice intoned by a dozen friends:

"One aspect intrinsic in any process of overcoming heartache, is to make a 'clean' break, severing all ties, removing any items or mementos that remind you of the person that kicked you to the curb."

Or so it went.

That was easier said from the lofty heights of the ivory tower than actually done.  

Gone are the glory-days of yesteryear, which only required an evening of removing photos from one’s room and assorting them into some albums and tucking the tainted albums deep within one’s closet, perhaps even lashing them with chains and powerful incantations. A necessary precaution, so that the Nerconimicon of your memories stays dead and buried.  

Now we have social media.

We are living in an age inundated with moments immortalised on our Facebook accounts, our Instagram accounts. I was a smitten kitten of a lover, besotted with my beloved; I never passed up an opportunity to capture her in repose, in my arms, without her noticing, us embracing, pulling faces, kissing — so many kissing shots. They were all obsessively recorded for posterity.

Nigh on 24 months of our time together, here and abroad, roaming Japan, touring Melbourne on a decadent food pilgrimage, the list goes on. A life shared in a myriad of photos, each imbued with the giddy splendour of true love eternal, now turned to testament of pathos.

After the first few months of the initial break up shock, I tried to follow her example (we were then still friends on Facebook) and systematically "cleanse" my social-media of the broad array of photos featuring her. The going was tough and led to a prolonged period of misery-sodden inertia. Having to manually go through each individual photo of you together – and delete them – is a task only a true psychopath can do with aplomb and without feeling some raw nerves stung anew.

Eventually, after a succession of insomnia-ruled alcohol-soaked nights, I resolved that I would not delete the photos, for they were a part of my life. Plainly, her coping method of realising single life was to erase me completely from every social-media account she possessed, yet I would not be like that. What we shared was beautiful, even if it ended in such a way as to make what the sinners in Hell’s boundless plains endure seem like mere child’s play in comparison.

I mollified myself with the knowledge that, while the photos were there, I need not torment myself by looking at them, they could stay buried in the ether of Facebook mundanities, lost to the ages in the recesses of my account. Out of sight, out of mind and so it went.

Until Facebook ostensibly gauged my turning of a new leaf and assiduously dedicated themselves to reminding me of my ex at every waking moment and at every possible turn. Facebook has ingeniously found a way to overcome my efforts with the "Share Memories" function.

Like relationships themselves, Facebook’s heart was in the right place when creating this function; the intention being to regale others with photographic evidence of your exploits, enlightening new friends and old of your cheer-filled moment’s years after they had occurred. However, also like relationships themselves, this well-meaning creation was destined to backfire spectacularly — case in point, with my plight.  

I am reminded of what has been irrevocably lost, daily, via this function, which beggars belief given that I have now blocked said ex. This has seriously stunted my attempts at moving on and forging a new, single and, hopefully, happy life.

Would it not stand to reason that if someone has been blocked, all photos would be ridded of them immediately thereafter, especially if they are tagged in all aforementioned photos?

Does Facebook, which oftentimes displays strokes of brilliance and the implementing of innovative techniques designed to make life easier, honestly have no ability to detect a person has been blocked and remove them from any considerations of the "Share Memories" function thereafter and in perpetuity?

For now, I know there to be no way to resolve my dilemma, perhaps growing to accept seeing her every day in my memories will ultimately serve to accept all that has happened and ultimately accept my new life. I’m not so bitter as to refuse to acknowledge that this is necessary, for I don’t regret fastidiously documenting every step of our relationship.

A few of my friends remarked that I should have not put up so many photos of my ex and I on Facebook, as in the event that things went awry and love deteriorated into despair and resentment, the "cleansing" ritual would be much more manageable. I took umbrage to that sort of skewered logic, given its tantamount to a celebrity pre-nuptial — you are blatantly displaying such little trust in a relationship withstanding the test of time and unpredictability of life, that you are already in damage-control.

What would such thinking say about your acumen?

Or faith in your acumen?

Entering into any relationship with safeguards, or reservations, or generally withholding your you in any way, is an exercise in futility. You are guaranteeing yourself failure — and hurtful failure at that.

Aside from the pernicious blunder of Facebook, I’m gradually getting better with accepting that we were not meant to be, for whatever reason.

Would I do things differently with my next relationship, however far down the line that turns out to be?

Yes, I’ve matured in many respects, in keeping with the motif of — each relationship gives you new, valuable insight into how best to have the next (and hopefully life-long) one. However, I would never change how infatuated I get, how proud I am to show off my partner, boldly proclaiming it from the mountain summit of Facebook atop the mountain ranges of social media.

The digital counterpart of my real life memories will always be there, whether Facebook improves the function or not.

There will come a time, years from now, when I can truthfully claim I’ve moved on and I will doubtless want to look back at the memories, and reminisce about all the joyous times of old.

You can follow Samuel Elliott on Twitter @tailoredtalker .

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Facebook: Why do you torment me so?

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