Have you ever had one? It starts with a small bit of downtime, an Internet connection, a device and browser. You don't have enough time to check mail or do real work so you think...hmm...I wonder what ever happened to? And there you go...
I have to admit this is one of the reasons why I love the Internet so much. It's the electronic equivalent of driving by someone's house to see if they're home. I'm not sure what having that knowledge did for me in high school anymore than I understand why it's so rewarding to discover my old high school lab partner has lost all his hair. I guess it's a way of confirming that the past may be past but it is far from over.
I wonder what it will be like for the generation behind me that is growing up online? Perhaps my generation will be the last one that will really and truly break up with someone and never hear from them again. What will that do to the nature of heartbreak? Will it lessen it or make it worse? I'm not sure it would have helped me to know that one of my great loves not only got married right after we broke up but put up a website of his wedding photos. (Looking at the site was the emotional equivalent of staring at a car wreck, you don't want to but you can't help yourself.)
As if that wasn't bad enough, a year later I see the happy couple's response to an evite from a mutual friend that said they would be there if they could find a babysitter. (Thank God they didn't post the baby pictures.) The proximity of our breakup, their marriage and the arrival of a little one made me rethink our whole relationship (as if I hadn't already beaten it to death.)
Back in the day, I wouldn't have known they were invited until I showed up and saw them there (or didn't show out of fear they would be there.) Now, I not only know that they're invited, I get the play by play about whether or not they're coming and what they will be bringing.
I realized that a big factor in me getting over someone was the feeling that they dropped off my radar completely (no I've never been one of those people who could stay friends -- maybe ten years later but not right after.) I settled for imagining what their life was like without me, I didn't need to know they were "working for the weekend" on Facebook. It used to be you collected their things in a box and that was closure -- now you have to consider when you will remove them as a friend in Facebook or unlink them on Linkedin, not to mention removing their contact info from every mobile device you own.
You could make the argument that there is nothing really passive at all about being online. It may be easier to get connected, it's infinitely harder to disconnect.
So whether mourning the loss of a relationship or trying to shake a friend, the reality of achieving closure may not lie in dropping off their radar, it may force you to actually "transition" instead of "dumping." Hmmmm...I'm not sure how to do that especially when the other person can transition so publicly.
When my oldest nephew went through a painful breakup with his high school girlfriend a few years back I told him she was probably as upset as he was. He said, "she's not. Her Facebook profile already says she's in a relationship."
"Maybe she hasn't updated it from you yet," I replied.
"She posted a picture of her kissing the blue haired kid," he answered.
"Wow," was about all I could muster.
It's not all stomach pains and sadness...sometimes a googling fit leads you to something really wonderful.
The other night I had a dream about a family friend who was a photographer. He came into my life in my early teens and was very influential in introducing me to many wonderful things. His example and advice helped me make some really good life choices. I googled him and found his website and took a few moments to go through his portfolio.
There were no pictures of him or his family, no updates on what he has been up to, no blog entries, nothing except shots of his work. It was even more powerful than I had remembered. His connection to me was through my father as they shared a passion for the labor movement. It was clear he had never lost the passion. I eyed the contact link and thought about touching base but decided that for now, it was enough to spend time with his work.
That my friends, was time well spent.