I'm going to be completely honest here. When it comes to Facebook stalking, my detective level is on expert. From creeping his latest pictures with his new girlfriend to going through his statuses just because I can, I sometimes hardly notice that my digital stalking has become a full-blown habit (there's a reason why my friends call me Sherlock Holmes). Why is that even though you swear that you've moved on, there's a small part of you that can't help but wonder how he's coping without you after your ugly breakup?
Better question, is it possible that there's more to this than curiosity or jealousy?
According to science, the answer is yes! Intrigued by human behavior, University of Missouri School of Journalism's Kevin Wise set forth to crack this code through the use of facial EMG sensors. When connected to the eye muscles, these sensors detect the levels of positive reaction stemming from visual stimuli.
In his social experiment, he closely documented the Facebook activity of over 30 people. He found that most of the participants used Facebook to search through the pages of both friends and former partners—Surprise, surprise. Wise concluded that the reason why we spend so much time creeping Facebook pages is because we experience instant "emotional gratification". Say what?!
While Wise sees Facebook "social searching" as a form of emotional bonding, other critics aren't as ready to accept this conclusion. In fact, psychologist Tara C. Marshall of Brunel University in England warns that constantly obsessing over the lives of our ex-lovers is detrimental to our health.
Fellow stalkers, you may want to prepare yourself for what she found.
She conducted a study where she analyzed the Facebook activity of 464 participants after a breakup, testing out the hypotheses that "people who remain Facebook friends with an ex-partner will experience poorer breakup adjustment and growth relative to those who do not remain Facebook friends [and] Facebook surveillance of an ex-partner will be negatively related to breakup adjustment and growth."
Ironically, Marshall noted that a direct correlation was present between the amount of time the participants spent on their ex-partner's Facebook pages and the increase in the level of emotional distress. She also saw that there was a decrease in self-esteem and personal growth, which just proves that keeping tabs on someone when you really shouldn't be is emotionally exhausting.
As if that isn't convincing enough to put our phones and laptops down, with all of these social media platforms available at our fingertips, keeping an eye on the people we left behind in the past has become way too addicting.
Take the recently released app Split, for instance. It basically tracks down your ex so you can avoid awkward run-ins. Sounds like a great solution to an uncomfortable situation, right? That is, until you start using it as the perfect wing man to stay updated on your old flames.
So take it from us: Your ex is in the past for a reason. Don't let a simple and innocent "peek" lure you into a love addiction you won't be able to break.
While a few drinks with girlfriends may make you feel better for the night, you're sure to feel worse the next day — and not just from a hangover, but wondering why (OMG why?!) you told the bartender about the STD your ex gave you, why you kissed that guy in the parking lot and how you got home.
More juicy content from YourTango:
- How To (Finally) Get Over Your Breakup And Move On
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- How To Get Over A Bad Breakup