1,061. That is the current number of followers that watch my life through the use of Instagram. One thousand and sixty-one people. These followers can span from people who watched me grow into the person I am today - my favorite fourth-grade teacher, my second cousin from Maine, the girl from ballet classes who I have just recently gotten back into contact.
Then there are the people who are relatively new additions to my life. These new characters that contribute to the plot-line (and my follower count on social media platforms) can range from my best friend whom I met my senior year of high school, guy friends I met through my other guy friends, or that one girl I met in the bathroom on last Friday night who said I had on a cute skirt and insisted we exchange usernames.
If you dig hard enough, you can find just about anyone. But you know who you won’t find?
I’ll give you a hint: It’s the same person my one friend, whom we’ll call Charlotte, should have unfollowed. Charlotte sat across from me in a coffee shop where she told me she was struggling with being bombarded by 140-characters-of-her-ex’s-life-without-her. She was constantly hitting refresh on status updates, twitter likes, Instagram posts and finding herself pray in the entangled web of a heartbreak that is full of torturous pain and pictures of his new girlfriend.
When she sat there with her hands on the window of her ex’s life I had clear and concise advice: Close it. “How would that look to him? Isn’t that just a symbol of defeat?” she asked me, hands still glued to the phone. “No,” I said to her. And I told her that because I meant it.
Devouring your exes every musing is the defeat. Obsessively clicking through the tagged photos of them is the loss. Wondering how he or she will react if you unfriend or block them is a type of unconscious hold they shouldn’t have on you because they aren’t the ones physically holding you anymore. The relationship has ended. The social media friendship must go as well.
In order to get over someone, you must resist the urge to check up on them. It’s painstaking at first. I won’t undermine how difficult this can be. When I had to learn this rule myself, my mother told tales of a utopian world where you’d only see your ex if you accidentally bumped into him at the mall.
And you’d do what all of us would do. You’d go home and cry. You would be hurt. And you would binge eat a lot Reese's peanut butter cups. But the ghost you caught sight of while on the hunt for a new pair of jeans? He didn’t have the ability to follow you around.
I don’t unfollow people who aren’t in my life anymore as a petty revenge in the psychodrama of my life. I don’t do it to prove my anger or my distaste. I do it because I simply do not want to have a front row seat to the showcasing of their life without me.
It’s a type of self-preservation that can only be seen when you aren't seeing their face on your feed anymore. After all, it's been obstructing the view of your life happier, healthier life without them.