When you live away from “home” visits back can be fraught with danger: will your friends notice the weight you have put on? Will everyone have gone on to dazzling heights in their careers? Will pets and peoples’ babies remember who you are? But surely the WORST thing about going back home is the high level of “bump-into-ex” potential?
You would think so, but in this age of social network obsession everything we do, everywhere we go is logged in history forever. You only have to go online to bump into your ex these days; they are there for you to access 24/7 from the comfort of your own flat. This window into people’s lives is always open and having a little peak in every now and again has its own pros and cons.
I recently went “back home” and did indeed bump into my ex, but thanks to Facebook et al, the shock of seeing him was eased immensely. I already knew he still worked in the same place, I already knew he still looked the same and I already knew he wasn’t married or a father yet. He, in turn, will know that I have moved away to A CITY (cor blimey!), that I’m doing what I want to do and I am still frighteningly attractive. Social network surfing allowed me to brace this hazardous situation with the the airbag-like protection that such prior knowledge gives you. I came away feeling a little bit smug and not at all the shaken up idiot I may have been otherwise.
However, there is a down side to having everything you do immortalised in cyberspace. The people we do these things with are also recorded forever in all our photo and status tagging. What do you do when relationships fizzle out but the Internet is there ready and waiting to remind you of them with the 62 online photo albums you created when everything was still peachy?
For instance, if you break up with your boyfriend do you remove every mention and each photographic evidence of his existence or do you keep every shred of him online and intact?
In the past when relationships ended your ex was neatly tucked under the bed in a shoe box…or taken outside and burned. Any discovery would involve your current g/b/friend being a massive, unhinged snoop and any heartbroken reaction to anything they unearthed would be entirely their own fault. But now even the best intentioned afternoon spent swooning over pictures of your g/b/friend are cruelly spited by photos with exes, skipping through parks and gurning at each other. It can be hard enough discovering your other half has already been to Berlin with an ex without the added horror of being able to access their loved-up holiday snaps as well.
You would think that, out of respect for a new relationship, the first thing you’d do was a subtle removal of all evidence of previous bed-fellows. However, some of my friends photo streams play out like a ‘This Was Your Love Life’ and I genuinely feel sorry for any future partner who happens to stumble upon pictures of exes, all self-taken and full of kisses.
But we all have baggage, and it’s naive and damaging to harbour the lie that your partner hasn’t been involved with anyone else ever. Perhaps having everything out in the open actually makes things easier; exes don’t look like Gisele, don’t all play the harp and aren’t all paediatricians with halos. These people, like it or not, make up the fabric of who we are, and were as much part of a moment in our history as we were. They are tagged throughout our emotions and all over how we deal with relationships, so maybe having a reminder of their bad hair, ill fitting clothes and the annoying “fun face” they used to do is worth the reminder of how we got to where we are.
Image courtesy of: wmpoweruser.com; cyh.com