1. You wake up still drunk. A stranger is sleeping in your bed. She's cute but you want her to leave. Needless to say, you really have to fart.
2. Familiar with one-night stand protocol, you're surprised, days later, to receive her friend request. To be polite, you accept it.
3. Over the weeks, she joins the chorus on your newsfeed. She posts a couple albums, likes a few statuses, and changes her profile picture twice. You can't help but notice. It's happening right before your eyes.
4. You can't help but notice that she's dating someone new. Now that you have an open window into her life, you can't help but notice her every move.
5. Better judgment aside, you find yourself evaluating her new boyfriend. You compare yourself to him and imagine his relationship with her.
6. You find yourself reconfirming and reevaluating opinions of your once one-night stand. During the process, you also reframe and redefine your own self-image.
7. You neglect to notice that her cyber activity reflects but a fraction of her daily activity. You neglect to notice that this fraction results in a distortion of reality.
8. You forget that she, like everybody, engages in two types of behavior. You forget that her front stage behavior is directed towards you, the audience, while her back stage behavior is conducted behind the social curtain.
9. She controls, at least partially, the information that she shares. Only the information that she wants to share becomes public knowledge.
10. As far as you're concerned, that information defines her character. And she might very well confuse herself with that information. Her good performance fools you and her both.
11. But the person whose profile you see isn't the same person who you slept with weeks ago. It isn't even the same person who's posting the content. It's an actress who doesn't shit, shower, or shave.
12. You don't see her getting ready. You don't see her struggling to look and feel a certain way. You don't see the process of her identity. You see only the result.
13. It's not irrational that you, over the past few weeks, have become attached and increasingly attracted to her. You see her face every day and she looks perfect.
14. But your relationship with her is entirely pornographic. You think that a connection exists, a special bond, due to the frequent exchange of personal information.
15. This distortion of reality ultimately prevents you from seeking out and working for real connections and developing real relationships.
16. You're paralyzed by your false perception, connected to nobody but a cyber-identity, intimate with nothing but a cold computer screen.
17. You have a few different options.
- Unfriend her. But unfriending her won't necessarily solve your problem -- aware that she's still out there, you'll remain tempted to look.
- Delete your account. But then you'll miss out on certain information that you actually consider important.
- *Learn to let go.
*To learn to let go, consider these lessons:
a) Let go of your self-image. Let go of your perception of her. Let go of your social media obsession. Let go and live your life.
b) Spend your days, not scrolling through life, but fighting for it.
c) Find someone to love, if you're ready to find someone to love. I guarantee they won't be perfect, but neither are you.
d) Spend more time on interactions than the Internet.
e) Invest more in your relationships than you do in yourself.
f) Don't forgo your identity altogether, but be anonymous when granted the opportunity.
g) There is something profoundly human about the one-night stand, and something profoundly wrong with its current state of imperilment.
Brian Hanley is a Master's of Engineering degree candidate at Lehigh University and founder of TechnicalEntrepreneurship.com.