According to New York Magazine, Millennials never really “break up”—thanks, in part, to social media and smartphones, which keep us eternally connected, 4eva and eva. Pass by a haunt frequented by you and an old flame back in the day? Send a text to reminisce. Missing your now-married ex-girlfriend and wondering what she’s up to? Sift through her engagement photos on Facebook and let the pain wash over you, one click at a time. Go ahead—drunk dial that guy you went out with once, but never heard from again. Sit idly on Gmail and hope your hookup will ping you with an IM. Favorite his tweets, while you’re at it.
And so on, and so on.
I’d be throwing some seriously big rocks in a tiny glass house if I said I wasn’t guilty of any (or all) of the above habits at some point in the past decade. This past weekend, for example, I found myself in Cleveland Circle, which made me think of a guy from BC I used to hook up with—11 years ago—and had me wondering what he was up to. I pulled my phone out of my purse to text him and promptly returned it to its pocket after I realized that volleying a few messages with a man who, now, is a virtual stranger to me, would accomplish nothing—except make me feel desperate.
The issue here isn’t technology: it’s us. Sure, tales of unrequited love are as old as time, and breakup songs are called that for a reason. But meandering in the past, whether by Facebook or iPhone, is a sign that, perhaps, we’re not satisfied with the present. And as the old saying goes, just because you can (reach out to virtually anyone, any time of the day, by any means possible), doesn’t mean you should. The article also raises the issue of what, or who, constitutes an “ex.” Is it a term we use loosely to cover our bases? Or has hookup culture eliminated so many boundaries that we’re simply in need of something tangible? And if generations' past can move on from their relationships without airing dirty laundry in the digital breeze, why can't we? (Stevie Nicks, for the record, is excluded from this category.)
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