Between 1989 and 1991 – my formative teenage years at school – I was dumped three times by three separate girls. In 1989, I found solace in New Order’s ‘Technique’ album (I haven’t listened to it since), while 1990-91 saw Joy Division’s ‘Closer’, R.E.M.’s ‘Green’ and ‘Out of Time’ albums, and pretty much everything The Cure had ever written (though, I spent a lot of time with ‘Disintegration’), all acting like a great, goopy musical adhesive to hold together the shattered pieces of my tragic adolescent life.
Not only did I seem to revel in the melodrama and the misery of my break-ups, but I also scrawled every self-pitying word in a diary (which had a lock on it). I didn’t know it at the time but I was a walking teenage cliché, with a face almost theatrically white from the thick coating of Oxy10 I kept almost permanently applied. Still, at the time, being dumped felt like the end of the world. It also caused hairline fractures in my already fragile self-confidence and brought about persistent periods of self-doubt.
Fast-forward 18 years and I’ve been dumped again. Well, sort of. Someone that I really liked on Twitter has stopped following me. And to be honest, I feel like I’ve been dumped all over again.
I started following this person a few months ago and was pleasantly surprised when they followed me back. However, ever since that time I’ve sort of been waiting for them to leave me, which is exactly the kind of behaviour I engaged in during my teens (i.e. too miserable to actually enjoy the moment because, from day one, the end is nigh).
Every time my follower numbers have dipped over the last couple of months I’ve anxiously scanned my follower list to check that this person’s avatar was still present. And, yes, I secretly breathed a sigh of relief every time I confirmed that they were still with me.
But when I checked my follower list the other night, they – she – had gone. Now, I should stress that my affinity for this particular person isn’t anything romantic. I just find them funny, feisty, occasionally quite acerbic (which I like) and wonderfully intelligent. A great person to follow and be followed by. So I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d done to turn this person off.
Am I boring? Is that it? Did she find me boring? Oh, God, please don’t tell me that she found me boring! I’d rather be appallingly offensive than boring. Maybe she didn’t find me funny? Oh, GOD, was I not even mildly amusing? Not even perfunctory smirk amusing? And do I really have the time to trawl through over one thousand of my tweets in order to confirm or deny these horrendous possibilities? Well, yes, maybe.
Of course, I’ll never know the reason why she unfollowed me. And that’s sort of the problem. It means I’m left with a guessing game, while pangs of self-doubt return. What’s worse is that she unfollowed me after a few months, which means that she actually grew tired of me. I don’t think I’d feel as bad if she’d rashly unfollowed me after only giving me the benefit of a couple of tweets.
I absolutely adore Twitter, but you’ve really got to leave your feelings at the door if you’re a sensitive soul like me. Thinking too hard about why people choose to follow you, and then later abandon you, can drive you mad.
Before I signed up to Twitter I would never have envisaged actually becoming fond of complete strangers (in fact, not even strangers – the words of complete strangers). But I really do enjoy seeing the same people appear in my timeline every day with interesting links, observations, jokes and general musings. I am still following this person (in the Twitter sense of the word; I don’t mean I’m stalking them, keying desperate messages into the bonnet of their car and sending them road-kill in jiffy bags), but I guess I’ll just have to accept that I find her more interesting to follow than she does me. Jesus, that stings.
Right, I’m off to pull my fringe down over my face, apply some Oxy10 (for the purposes of authentically recreating my grotesque teenage self) and then fish out a suitable album to play while I wallow in misery in my bedroom. Being dumped never gets any easier.