The Ghosts of Cyber Past
by RULA AL-NASRAWI
In the spirit of the Brutal Issue, and the nature of the “tell it like it is” Sagittarius, I wanted to think about some really brutal aspects of 2014 life. There are plenty of things to choose from: spotting an ex on Tinder, your middle school math teacher asking you out on social media, I could go on for days listing ways in which digital life has kept me in continuous cringe-mode. I think the most brutal and uncomfortable situation I have ever experienced though is still and will always be the social media breakup. Honestly you guys, there truly is nothing more heinous.
I just came across a fiction—I mean, I hope it’s fiction because if it’s not fiction I’m definitely hiding in a crater—piece on Thought Catalog about some guy’s dead girlfriend sending him Facebook messages years after she dies in a gnarly car crash. This girl’s ghost was haunting her boyfriend, tagging herself in pictures and messaging him that she’s cold—as IF they don’t have sweatshirts and blankets on the other side. Anyway, it scared me shitless. After spending 30 minutes panicking, the story got me thinking about the way in which people are immortalized in the digital world. And I’m not just talking about people who passed away, I’m talking about the ghosts still living, haunting our newsfeeds and constantly reminding us that they still exist.
I mean look at it this way, whether you’ve dated someone for five years or went down on them for five minutes, you still run the risk of having to deal with them on social media after the fact. Maybe you decided not to add them on every social media platform or hey, maybe you guys are actually friends now. But even if you deleted that person a long time ago mark my words, they will come back to haunt you one way or another.
To be quite honest, I’m thankful that I’m not adding people in Costco wholesale amounts like when I first started college and added like 65 new people every day. Hi, I’m not buying a 700 pack of gatorades these are people we’re talking about. There are some people we just don’t need in our cyber lives at all—yes, man from the salsa club who texted me “I am Sam” every day for six months and sent me various gas station selfies with NOT A SINGLE response on my end, I see you.
When you let someone in to your social media life, you’re kinda taking a leap. I know we all laugh about a relationship being “Facebook official” but let’s be real, Facebook official is a THING. And it’s only really a thing because of the potential Hiroshima-esq disaster that can ensue if or when that Facebook relationship implodes. It happened to me. It’s probably happened to you. And at this point in time, it has probably also happened to your 85 year old granny neighbor who has five different Life Alerts. But when you end a Facebook relationship and it’s finally made public, it’s like the fucking Hunger Games. Except there’s just two tributes and no one’s hungry, everyone’s just thirsty AF. Trust me, if you want to know who wanted to bang your boyfriend, check and see who likes his new single status. These girls ain’t loyal.
What I’m trying to say is that now, despite our insane technological advancements, despite our fixation with what the future will hold for our economic standing or the ozone layer or the winner of The Voice or if a woman will be our next President, we just can’t shake our past. We’re sick with obsession over who we were in college, what we said on this person’s timeline six years ago, and what our once significant other now vague acquaintance is doing with themselves.
“Oh wow, he’s married now...His wife is cute.”
“He looks single from his pics. Oh and he looks kinda fat, YAAAAS!”
“Ugh. I really miss her. We used to have so much fu—WHO THE FUCK IS THIS GUY?”
But really though, why do we get on this torturous merry go round of images and stay on until we’re nauseated from the nostalgia? Images that mean nothing but used to mean everything.
If you don’t believe in ghosts think again. You probably have one haunting you right now...boo.