My ex-girlfriend sent me a friend request a month ago but I haven’t responded because I’m still figuring out what it means.
I’m a serial over-thinker but the response, to what seems like a harmless gesture, could change the dynamic of my dating world.
This is an example of how social media has digitised the paralysis of analysis. The analysis paralysis is when a person overthinks a situation to the extent that no sense can be made and nothing gets done.
But it’s not a case of digitally snubbing my ex-girlfriend as much as it is me believing ignorance is the best policy.
As I browse my Facebook, too many reasons surface to stop me from accepting the request.
She wants to know who is winning.
This is common amongst exes with each interested in seeing how the other has faired post break-up. We all do it. It’s increasing at such a rate that it’s almost commonplace.
Job status and gym ‘selfies’ are at the top of the judging criteria followed by overseas adventures where one “finds their true self” on some remote yoga retreat at the top of a mountain. Or Contiki, if your ex was all class.
But Facebook plays the role of the internet-bouncer better than any other social networking site. If an ex wants access to more photos and personal information they have to ask for entry at the door.
Maybe there is a way to remove the awkward re-friend, and categorise users into ‘past relationships.’ Just like you categorise your school friends, work mates and acquaintances.
And as an added feature, Facebook could track the number of times the user has viewed the profile when unfriended, to get a better grasp of their attention and intention.
However, while Facebook may not be the ideal site for stalking because it’s too private, there are still many other platforms to piece together bits of my life. Twitter would be the most useful as its privacy restrictions are much more flexible.
But why the sudden monitoring, does that mean I’m back on the radar?
This could be a subtle way of instigating conversation; an attempt to remind me of her. If the request is accepted, one has to read between the ‘likes’ and possibly reply to inbox essays recounting the last three years.
Succumbing to these signals could risk a break of the number one unwritten rule of dating: Don’t date an ex.
Sure, there I’ll always have a soft spot for that lame inside joke sharer, who spoke in code and killed any form of group conversation. But you can never truly start over. Once the fights start, arguments snowball into past mistakes and both parties realise why they broke up in the first place.
Or maybe it’s harmless.
What if the games are over, and we are just mature adults who know each other, which is the definition of a Facebook friend?
My anxiety is only concerning one person on one social network. Once this problem is solved, we move to Instagram and Snapchat for a philosophical struggle in pictures.
It is wrong that Facebook and social media have such a bearing on the projection of past and future relationships?
Personally I feel it’s a little unhealthy, particularly where it has the potential to breathe life back into something that needed to die.
Social networking sites have created a whole new world of digital cues, which are almost as important as physical cues in shaping a relationship’s trajectory.
If you accept a request from an ex they have entirely new ways of getting their messages across, for example the ‘like’ and the ‘poke’, constantly reminding you that you’re being watched. And then there’s the delayed response, which takes ‘hard to get’ to a new level. You literally don’t have to do anything to toy with a person’s feelings.
All this might become my problem if I accept that request.
It might also suggest I am taking this gesture far too seriously… which is not true.
(Image: Wade M on Flickr)