Voyeurism and Masochism


I should know better than to Facebook stalk. I am twenty-six (going on twenty-seven) and have been around the proverbial block a time or twelve. I realize that it’s best to keep your eyes on your own paper, that the grass seems greener on the other side, and that hindsight vision is always (always) twenty-twenty. Yes, I’ve read every sound piece of wisdom anyone has ever thrown at me and taken it to heart. And, boy, do I dish out some wisdom to friends in crises.

But it never fails, every six months I get curious as shit and decide that it’d be okay if I had just one eensie-weensie, teenie-weenie little peek at what the other halves are doing. The Boyfriend, his girlfriend, and The Friend all have public twitter accounts and blogs. And as much as I know it is wrong, I can’t help but take a look at what they’re writing and thinking. Weird? Maybe. Voyeuristic? Probably. Sadistic? For sure. The Twitter accounts were actually shared with me by the individuals at a time that we were, in fact, friends (except for the girlfriend’s, but she contacted me via blog comments about a year ago and it was linked on that comment..) and they’re not private (like my personal account is.). And Facebook gleans little information for me except what their current profile pictures look like.n So on the one hand, I’m not doing anything deceitful by looking. But on the other hand, I shouldn’t be looking at all.

You know what the definition of insanity is, right? It’s doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

I made the conscious decision to un-add The Friend and The Boyfriend from Facebook a long, long time ago because it was just too much. I have blogged here before about the pain of seeing updates in timelines, getting relationship notifications, etc. And it was difficult to see that they were living their lives without any clue that I had ever been an important part of it. So it would follow that I would take a peek, feel like shit, eventually recover, rinse and repeat.

In the beginning, I Facebook stalked because I missed The Boyfriend or The Friend. I wanted to know what they were doing or thinking. There was a void to fill, to be sure. And I am a curious, sadistic little thing. But then somehow, something switched for me. Suddenly, the curiosity didn’t put me into a tailspin of emotions. The pain in my heart wasn’t one of missing, or longing. I started Facebook stalking (or Twitter stalking as the case may be) just to see if I could.

I became fascinated with seeing what information I could garner and if it would upset me or not. Can I see a picture of them and a girl and not freak out? Can I see where they vacationed and not be upset? Can I read a joke they tell and laugh? I started pushing myself to the edge to see how strong I was.

And I am pleasantly surprised every time I survive. But something draws me back to make sure I can still stick my hand in that fire and react positively. I am actually proud of myself when it doesn’t hurt to look.

Where two or three years ago, it was upsetting to see these things, it’s drastically different these days. I felt insecure, sometimes worthless, and always lonely and pitiful. But these days when I look at anything that reminds me of the past transgressions, I sort of just feel….stupid.

I feel stupid for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I feel stupid for looking. Their lives are normal…just average. True, they all have relationships and I’m still drifting into the unknown world of singledom. But other than that, they’re doing average things. No better than me, but certainly no worse. They’re just getting by, like I am.

Part of the voyeuristic look I take at these social network profiles also brings up a sense of illegitimacy. I feel stupid for caring so much about these relationships when clearly they mean very little to the individuals inbvolved. I know that it is not true, that what I had with The Boyfriend was significant . Even he has admitted that he probably responded too coldly and aloofly when we initially split ways. But I can’t help but feel just flat-out stupid that I am still haunted by my mistakes.

My stomach also churns a little at the idea that they can’t possibly know how much I’ve changed. Beyond the physical changes (that they can easilys ee), I’ve mentally and emotionally become such a different person in the past three years. I look back at myself and I want to grab that Blonde, and shake her. Arguing over cereal? The petty fights and disagreements. I just really regret that being the lasting memory someone has of me. I feel stupid and it’s not even how I am anymore.

Indeed, it is a terrible idea to play this ‘catch up’ game on Facebook. First and foremost, I feel like I stalk because of a lack of confidence. I lack the confidence that my feelings are legitimate, that my relationships were meaningful to anyone else, and that I truly am as strong as I feel. Because, if I had that confidence, would I keep testing myself? I keep putting myself through the ‘gauntlet’ to make sure I don’t have an emotional break down. But I end up throwing a pity party for different reasons. I pass the tests–their success doesn’t bother me. It’s my own shortcomings that become evident. I regret very little about ending the relationships, but feel such regret for my own stupid behavior.

My solemn vow is that yesterday was my last incident of Facebook stalking. Never again, no matter how curious. Not because I can’t handle it, but because there’s just no real point anymore. I can handle it. I just don’t have to anymore.

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