We don’t always talk about it, but we certainly all do it. For better or worse, cyber-stalking has become part of the DNA of a breakup. If you thought a breakup was bad in 2002 when you had to run into the ex at school or work the next day and maybe bump into them with a new girlfriend at the movie theater, how could you ever have imagined waking up to their Caribbean vacation on Facebook or their morning jog on Twitter?
Google was the gateway drug. It allowed us just a taste of personal information. And then Facebook, more so than either of its primogenitures, Friendster or MySpace, made shit real. The ability to “watch” an ex’s life post-you like it was a mid-market mimeo of “The Bachelor” made a breakup all the more heart-rending.
Twitter just facilitated that process. The updates moved into real time. You could know what an ex and a new girlfriend were up to at almost every second of the day. Did they both read the same Onion story? Did they meet in the park for lunch? Why the hell did he take her to that Ethiopian place that YOU introduced him to? WHY?
If you thought that was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet my friends. Welcome to the latest frontier in social cyber-stalking, the one that might be the most dangerous of them all — Pinterest stalking.
I have a girlfriend. Let’s call her Amy. A smarmy lawyer named Paul dumped Amy about six weeks ago. No one liked Paul, but of course we didn’t tell Amy that while she was dating him because Amy is the kind of girl who always sides with the guy, until that guy happens to hook up with a stripper at a buddy’s bachelor party in Montreal and then accidentally sends her a picture of it.
It’s been a month and a half and Paul is obviously dating someone else. Amy is not. Amy has created several faux-Amys in order to monitor with Carrie Mathison-like precision Paul’s every move on Facebook and Twitter.
It wasn’t until Amy discovered that Paul’s new girlfriend is a very active participant in Pinterest that we decided she needed an intervention.
It started when I complimented Amy on a Peruvian style poncho paired with skinny jeans and tan suede booties.
“Thanks,” she said with an abundance of excitement. “Hillary pinned something just like it.”
Hillary is naturally Paul’s new girlfriend and is partial to pinning pictures of her outfits, other people’s wedding shoes, kittens and homemade mini-cupcakes.
Over the next week or so I saw Amy slowly transform into Hillary via Pinterest-Hillary.
She baked a Bailey’s Irish Cream chocolate cake for our girl’s night with little hearts stenciled on the top in powdered sugar. She painted her bedroom a robin’s egg blue and bought pillowcases that had actual silhouettes of robins on them to compliment it. She began drinking creamsicle martinis and wearing a very intricate side waterfall braid.
It was the most terrifying case of social media-induced “Single White Female” I have ever seen. And it was all Pinterest’s fault.
I chatted with psychotherapist Dr. Jenn Berman about the situation. Dr. Berman deals with so many crazypants relationships on VH1’s “Couples Therapy” that I figured she had seen it all.
Of course she had.
“One of the difficulties of Facebook is that it provides people with the perfect snapshots of ideal moments in someone else’s life and relationship. But Pinterest is even worse. It is literally those perfect snap shots,” Berman explained. “It is digitally enticing, often airbrushed. It is particularly easy for women to project emotions based on photos. We see a big beautiful house and we think their life must be perfect and they must have no problems at all.”
So what could I do about Amy? Social media cold turkey.
“If a woman is in a place where they can take social media with a grain of salt, participate by all means, but most women post-breakup are not in that place so they need to abstain from all activity,” Berman prescribed.
I confronted Amy as she was packing Christmas ornaments into egg cartons and preparing to make a spool wreath.
At first she countered that she really enjoyed all this DIY handicraft and that October was not at all too soon to be using found objects to make Christmas decorations (Amy has been Jewish as long as I have known her). An hour into this Pinterestervention she broke down in tears.
“I hate creamsicle martinis!” Of course she did. They’re gross.
But the crux of the psychosis was that Amy, no matter how sub-consciously she may have been doing it, thought that by emulating Hillary’s life (even if it was her fake aspirational, Photoshopped dream life) she would get Paul back.
Admitting the problem was the first step.
She has been off the Pinterest for a week now. I made her burn several T-shirt scarves and re-paint her room. She completely pulled the cord on social media. For now, I think it is the only way she will heal.
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