MY BOYFRIEND CAN’T SEE THIS: Why Social Media Will Kill My Relationship (part 1)

LEGAL STALKING

A few weeks ago, the ladies at Pamflet asked me to speak at the London launch of Emma Koenig’s FUCK! I’M IN MY TWENTIES. It’s amazing, buy it. Anyway, I used this as an opportunity to find out what the audience thought of my online behaviour towards my boyfriend. They thought I was less of a psycho than I’d anticipated so I thought ‘sod it’ and turned my talk into a series of blog posts. This is part 1. And my boyfriend has now seen this.

I freak out every time my boyfriend wants to use my MacBook for something. I usually smack his hand away before he even has a chance to move the mouse to Chrome. I’d definitely rather accidentally break his DJing hand or whatever than see the look on his face if he discovered the dark secret that lies in wait on my home page if I haven’t cleared my browsing history in the last forty five minutes. But I’m not having a raunchy affair conducted entirely through Facebook chat, I don’t have a shameful past that could be revealed by an unfortunate email at any moment and there is no addiction to obscure pornography that could be exposed with a simple mistyped URL. The truth is far worse: my most visited sites will undoubtedly always be his Facebook and Twitter profiles.

There’s nothing ostensibly wrong with that, right? Most people dedicate a large proportion of their days to just observing what their friends, acquaintances and complete strangers are doing online, so me checking my boyfriend’s the most out of everyone is totally fine. But it does put me into situations I wish I could avoid at times. This is a standard conversation we’ll have, on Facebook chat or Twitter or on the phone or by text or on What’s App or by email or IRL in bed: He’ll be all like “Hey babe, did you see my really good tweet earlier about Facebook/House Music/Football?” so I’ll be all like “No babe what was it?” trying to sound all interested, like an all round great girlfriend. But really I mean, “Of course I saw your bloody tweet, I’ve seen literally every tweet you’ve posted since we first met because I’m completely obsessed with you and your profile is consistently open as secondary browsing during all of my other Internet use, which is 24/7, FYI.” So he tells me about his amazing tweet and out loud I say “Oh great one, I hope it got loads of retweets,” but inside I already know that only 2 unthreatening men even responded and I don’t actually care, because I’m too busy hoping that I played it cool enough for him to not suspect that I’m completely deranged and should be arranging to see a therapist instead of speculating about whether his follower count will rise.

It’s not like I’m paranoid that he’s using social media to find a replacement for me. He knows that even a normal person in 2k12 would discover such blatant misconduct pretty quickly, so there’d be no point in trying such tricks with this little Internet addict. Furthermore, cagey as I am about letting him touch my technology, he’s pretty open with his Apple products and I’ve had ample opportunity to read every private message he’s sent since the beginning of time. But I’ve never gone into any of his inboxes, and if I ever felt the need to do so I’d also feel the need to end our relationship immediately, for everyone’s sake. So it’s not really fair to describe what I do as ‘snooping’ or ‘checking up on him’.

“But if it isn’t based in a deep-rooted sense of insecurity, then what is the psychological origination of you need to repeatedly press refresh on all of his profiles all day, every day?” asks my imaginary internet psychotherapist, probably. And if @Freud was real I’d respond something like this: “I just really like to know the microscopic details of every single thing he’s doing, and thinking, and feeling. I just, like, care. I feel like I’m missing out if I don’t know what he had for lunch but he told someone in an @ reply. If an online stranger with only 67 followers is entitled to that privileged information then I most certainly am. Even if I’m sat next to him, or we’re on the phone, or if he’s asleep next to me and I checked it 8 minutes ago. Even though most of his online interaction is relentless self-promotion, or is completely outside of my general interests, and even though he does specifically tell me if he’s done a tweet he thinks I’ll actually care about. That’s adorbs, right?” @Freud nods. I’m not redefining Bunny Boiler for the digital age just yet.

TO BE CONTINUED

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