Make It Stop: “My Ex Won’t Stop Liking Every Thing I Post On Social Media”
My ex, who I’ll call Tom, favorites all my posts, tweets, and Instagrams and it’s driving me crazy! I don’t know if he’s doing it to get my attention or what. I told him we could be friends when we broke up six months ago, but I didn’t mean, “Feel free to inundate my social media with your constant digital approval.” How do I make him stop?
Who knows what goes on in the hamster wheel that is Tom’s brain? Maybe he’s lonely or wants your attention for some reason. He might be trying to signal that after a few low-key months where he respected your space, he wants you to know that he’s still alive. He may not even realize he’s putting you on edge. He might just be trying to signal that he’s ready to dip his toe into some friendship waters. Or maybe he’s trying to see if you’re open to getting back together.
We all know how seductively easy social media is. With a flick of a finger, Tom is enjoying a curated peek into your interior world. That’s probably why it feels like a violation. It’s not like he’s outside your bedroom window, but knowing that he’s actively engaging with your content when he’s not the intended audience feel squicky.
The good news is that you have lots of options here to nip this bullshit in the bud.
First, you can set your profiles to private. Boom! Problem solved. Imagine his face contort as he realizes that his unfettered access to Hudson-hued pics of your cat has been revoked. However, I know it’s not always possible to set your profiles to private, especially if you use your social media profiles for work or for self-promotion.
You can block him, which seems extreme but hey, it’s your newsfeed. Social media is your party, so if someone is bumming you out, eject ‘em! You’re not getting paid for posting Hudson-hued pics of your cat, so put the kibosh on anything making you roll your eyes. Who needs the aggravation? I give you permission to block his ass.
If you’re feeling aggressive, you can confront him about it. You could send a strongly-worded email about how he needs to respect your space, but that would be playing right into his ploy to secure your attention. Also, you’re showing him that he still incites emotion, which, if you have any pride, you don’t want him to know.
You can ignore him. After all, his enthusiastic participation in your virtual life can’t go on forever. I can’t imagine that in 2054, he’ll favorite your status update about how great the pudding is at your nursing home. Mostly likely after this initial spate of overactive “likes,” he’ll either get bored or lose interest when he starts seeing someone else.
If you feel like playfully engaging him, you can reciprocate the madness. “Like” all of his things, even his dumb pictures of the chili he made in his new slow cooker and or the “after” picture of his garage once he gave it a thorough cleaning. The more inane it is, the more enthusiastic you can be. Show him how it feels! Let @catluvvrr (or whatever your Instagram name is) fill up his phone’s screen so much, it’ll look like his phone is stuttering.
You could play trickster. Start posting things he knowingly won’t approve of. A used condom. Roadkill. Guy Fieri’s face. It’s almost like you’re daring him to tap the little heart icon. Sure, you might alienate all of your followers, but you’ll make a point.
You could always swallow your pride and give into his rouse. Reach out and say hi. Send him a nicely-worded email asking how he’s been. The idea is that if you give him the attention he desires, he won’t feel the need to connect over your apps.
If, after considering all these avenues and realize that they’re not your style, you can summon your inner Confucius and be zen about the situation. His activity online is a blip in your consciousness and it only has as much power as you let it command. Notice his name on your phone and let it flutter out as quickly as it fluttered in.
You could always take a break from social media altogether. Try it for two weeks and see how it feels. Boycott the circus of constant approval and self-promotion. Go outside. Live your life without documented evidence you need to compulsively share.
Or, you can burn it all down. Delete all the apps from your phone and deactivate your profiles. Start reading books again. Learn a new language. Finally get around to watching the TV show, “The Americans.” Call your grandmother. Learn how to knit cat mittens.
This is the world we live in where our public activity sometimes has unpleasant consequences. That’s the roller coaster of social media. The high is having a Bravolebrity favorite your tweet; the low is having your ex “like” your picture of your cappuccino with a heart in the foam. This is the price you pay for having exes in 2015.
The bottom line: there’s no right answer here. Consult your heart and your head and see what solution feels best. Regardless, I’m sure whatever course of action you take, in the long run, this problem will most likely resolve itself.
Make It Stop is a weekly column in which Anna Goldfarb — author of “Clearly, I Didn’t Think This Through” and the blogger behind the blog, Shmitten Kitten — tells you what’s up. Want a fresh take on a stinky dilemma? Email [email protected]