Moving on in the age of social media is difficult. It requires vast amounts of self-discipline. I personally can’t do it. I can’t cancel someone. I wish I could. There are a few people that I desperately wish I could cancel. But I can’t close those doors.

I spent six years of my life living with a person that I thought, after a previously failed relationship, would be my one. We struggled until I finally left to try to move on and improve my life. I moved to another country (not my home) and now am in the long and sometimes hard process of starting over at 33.

I understand that breakups have happened since the dawn of time. But today I found myself wondering, how has social media impacted the process of moving on? We used to have photo albums, maybe bundles of letters that you could take out and re-read to remember past days. But now, we have networks of people we have met and spent part of our lives with and they never move out of our mind because we see their posts on our feeds.

Do you cancel people? Or do you engage in the voyeurism that I think all of us are guilty of? Could it be that through staying ‘connected’ and ‘in touch’ digitally we are stunting our ability to truly move forward, and create new friends, new families, new experiences? This strange collective nostalgia built on likes and smileys somehow makes me sad. I miss the days of Christmas cards with photos and family updates. From the people who really made an effort to stay in touch.

So why can’t we cancel people? Have Facebook and Instagram kept us stuck behind? Concerned with being sure our old friends know we’re glad their kids have a cute Halloween costume?

The combination of cheap flights and Facebook friends is a dangerous one, at least for my battered heart. I keep wanting to go back. It’s so easy to waste hours looking at the thousands of digital photos taken on the hundreds of trips around the world. Add privilege and guilt and there you have it. I don’t think I am the only one.

Written by

Kathryn Bouchard is a researcher and policy analyst with a background in European Union policy-making focused on international security and humanitarian policy.

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