Marriage, by nature, is a social unit — and a sort of group project. Two people commit to building something together. In its primitive, ceremonial way, marriage is profound. It’s organic. That means that when it ends, it isn’t untying a knot so much as ripping off a limb. And when the raw reality of divorce meets the brassy town square of social media, it can get ugly.
My initial reaction to my impending divorce was to try and convince everyone on social media that I was doing great. I was going to learn from the robot’s mojo — that callous, charismatic persona — and become the sort of swell guy who no sane broad would have ever broken it off with. I posted encouraging quotes and positive status updates, interspersed with cute pictures of my cat.
Ironically, it had quite the opposite effect on my intended audience: my wife. During one of our sit-downs after the split, she told me that all her friends thought I was acting crazy on Facebook. I simmered but pretended I didn’t care. Afterward, I stopped posting as much, chagrined.
In the weeks that followed, I grew more quiet, but the nature of Facebook hadn’t changed. It was still the kid throwing the party, and I was walking, like a ghost, unseen in the middle of it. It hurt terribly to see photos of my wife standing with other guys’ arms around her at social events, grinning into the camera while I ate my TV dinner and tried to Netflix my pain away. Days were hard, nights were worse. To have and to hold and to let go is an awful feeling. To be reminded of it by a robot is hilarious and terrible.
Being connected to an ex on social media is the equivalent of having a lawn chair outside the window to their living room and being convinced to sit there for a while every time you go to check on the price of your bitcoin or text your mother. Right next to the metaphorical lawn chair is a literal photo album of the greatest moments you two have had together. Remember the night you first kissed? Remember your wedding dance? And finally, tantalizingly, there’s a metaphorical megaphone hanging from a strap right on the back of the chair. You can, if you feel like it, turn that bad boy on and say anything you want to her right now. The neighborhood is going to hear it, but your feelings are important, right?
And so on and so forth, the cheeky robot urges you to watch. To remember. To get back in touch.
I sat on Facebook’s lawn chair with red, bleary eyes and looked at that old album, wishing beyond hope that she would just come to the door and say, “Come on in. I’ve missed you so bad.”