Like a Punch in the Gut

Have you heard of Timehop?

I have. I even used it for a few years. It was a neat app that sniffs through your social accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Foursquare (now Swarm), to present you with a list of things you posted on this day one, two, three, or even more years ago.

Timehop requires a Facebook account to work. You can’t use another identity system, such as Twitter, Google+, or a username and a password. If you don’t have an active Facebook account, you can’t use it. And because I quit Facebook, I also quit Timehop.

I deactivated my Facebook account a few days after Sarah and I broke up. At one time, leaving Facebook was an unthinkable choice, something that disillusioned young teens and millennials did once their parents took to the social networking site. I wouldn’t say that quitting Facebook was a difficult choice as much as it was a necessary one. Almost everything about my life was about to change with that breakup, and I wanted to remove myself from this toxic digital garden that tethered me to that past. I didn’t want to deal with seemingly empty, well-meaning words of support from my friends, which would likely stop after a few days or weeks. I didn’t want to post some self-affirming quip and to have friends “like” it as if that would repair my shattered self-esteem. I also didn’t want to see my list of friends dwindle one-by-one as our almost one-hundred mutual friends took her side over mine. And, because of how my friends use Facebook, I couldn’t bear to read everyone’s endless stream good news and happy talk. I needed to quit Facebook, not to move on, but to forget and to disappear.

Nearly four months later, a lot of that despair is more or less behind me. Quitting Facebook likely helped because it forced me to reset almost everything and to reassess the meaningful relationships in my life.1 I no longer wonder what someone close to me is doing because I can reach them directly and ask them. And if I want to post something, I can do that on this website and share it with the entire open web.

A day or two ago, I met with my friend Joe, who is going through a divorce, and thus, we are confronting a lot of similar issues and challenges. As we shared our sad experiences, both crushing defeats and small victories, he formulated some advice for anyone going through a breakup:

Delete Timehop.

I asked him why.

He said that each day, each little reminder about what you did “on this day” some years ago is not a gentle tap from the past. Each one, he said, is like a punch in the gut.

My decision to leave Facebook, and consequently Timehop, seems like an especially wise one.2

  1. Curiously, I have kept my Instagram account going but mostly because the posts there are less about everyone’s good news or random thoughts or complaints. Also, the number of people I follow is significantly smaller. 
  2. Also, without a Facebook account, I am also barred from joining Tinder. 

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