I am a recovering Google addict.
For eight months, typing the names of my ex or his other wife into that tempting little search bar was my drug of choice.
I was Googling my ex, but what I really wanted to find was respite from the pain.
Of course, what I was hoping to find was a full-page ad taken out in the New York Times where he proclaimed that I was the best wife ever and that he made in the biggest mistake in the history of the world when he decided to cheat on and abandon me. I would have also been rewarded by the news that his new wife stole all of his money and abandoned him with a hastily-written sticky note.
Or, at the very least, the news that he had contracted rabies from the monkeys he was showering with in Uganda.
But none of that ever happened.
I mean, the showering with monkeys part happened. Thanks to my sleuthing, I was gifted with the pictures from his other wife’s blog. But as far as I know, there was no rabies, no sticky note and no full-page spread in the New York Times.
And from my perspective now, I realize that even if I had found evidence that he was miserable or regretful, it really wouldn’t have changed anything. Sure, I might have felt a little “zing” of pleasure at his misfortune (probably immediately followed by a jolt of guilt for feeling that way), but then I would have been set on a path of looking for more evidence of his struggle. Like a little breadcrumb trail feeding shots of dopamine to distract from my own pain. As you can imagine, that’s a path that is destined to lead to nowhere good.
Maybe you feel as though your ex took your happiness. So why are you gifting them your attention?
When you’re Googling your ex, you’re basically going to come across one of three things –
You discover that they’re doing great.
And, in turn, you feel like shit. Their endless pictures of smiling faces only serve to make you feel more alone. The upbeat nature of their posts makes it seem like they moved on from you without hesitation.
Intellectually, you know that you’re comparing your reality to their carefully curated presentation, but your heart doesn’t listen. For every good thing in their life, you find a negative counterpoint in your own.
Yet you can’t stop watching. It’s like a train wreck of happiness. It is unbearable to look, but you can’t look away.
You learn that they’re miserable.
Which is what you secretly want, right? You want them to feel the pain you’re experiencing. You want validation that you were important to them and that your loss has impacted them negatively. Maybe this urge is coming from a need for things to feel “fair” or perhaps you’re desperate for them to understand what they’ve put you through.
But the result is the same.
You learn about their misfortune and indeed, you may feel a little pleasure at the news of their pain. But then, you feel a little dirty. After all, that’s not like you, to want others to hurt. And, as you soon realize, that their pain doesn’t actually eliminate yours at all.
You are bombarded with pictures and information that show that they’re human, with both good days and bad.
This is the most likely result of your internet sleuthing. You see some utopian pictures of your ex with a new partner and later learn of a loss that they’ve experienced. Your brain thrives on these intermittent rewards, which are just as addictive as a slot machine in Vegas. You feel an intoxicating mixture of highs and lows depending upon the nature of what the day’s search reveals.
It’s a distraction from your own life, as you convince yourself that you need to know what they’re up to. Much like reading a daily horoscope, you allow this information to shape your day and shift your perspective.
Your ex let you go, but you’re still holding on. Tying your happiness to theirs.
Ask yourself this – How does your ex’s life REALLY matter to yours?
It’s not as though there are a limited number of “happiness tokens” available and you and your ex are fighting over the same cache.
Nor are you playing some sort of sport where one person is deemed the “winner” and the other has to accept the moniker of “loser.”
And, there is ultimately nothing that you can discover that will make your pain disappear or undo the past.
It’s time. Time to stop directing your attention into the endless chasm of Googling your ex. And time to start spending your time and energy on something far more valuable –