Should You Follow an Ex on Instagram?

As Brooklyn Beckham’s ex, Hana Cross, is seen in tears after re-following him on Instagram, we ask whether social media destroys our chances of recovery after a break-up.


A Cinderella Story Played Out on Instagram


At the start of this year, twenty-two-year-old model, Hana Cross, appeared to be living her own Cinderella story.  She was Victoria Beckham’s muse, David Beckham’s pal and, Brooklyn Beckham’s first serious girlfriend since American actress Chloe Grace Moretz.  


Despite being relatively unknown, Hana was seated with fashion royalty at London Fashion Week in February, thanks to the Beckham’s connections.  Victoria seemed eager to welcome Hana into the clan and promote her as part of the Beckham ‘brand’.   The two women bore a strong resemblance to each other.  Perhaps Victoria also felt she could relate to Hana on a deeper level, having both struggled to make friends during their younger years.


Hana’s years as a student, in the Cotswold town of Chipping Campden, had been plagued by vicious comments about her appearance by classmates.   Not yet recognised as a beauty - or perhaps the victim of envy - she was regularly taunted by her peers.  “She was far from popular.  People were mean to her.” recalls a former student of Chipping Campden School.   It’s likely that Victoria found Hana far easier to connect with than the feisty, sharp-witted Chloe Grace Moretz.


However, the perks of being Brooklyn Beckham’s girlfriend came at a price. Once Brooklyn and Hana became ‘Instagram Official’, it became clear that Brooklyn’s followers had a vicious streak.  Hana’s appearance was compared to that of the petit and much admired Moretz.  ‘Chloe is better’ his followers chimed, repeatedly.


The pressure intensified when paparazzi shots of Hana and Brooklyn locked in tense and tearful exchanges began to appear in the tabloid press.  According to The Sun, security guards were forced to step in to separate the volatile pair during a summer trip to Cannes.  Victoria and David were becoming concerned.  David apparently warned his son that the relationship had become toxic.   Hana was no longer Victoria’s new best friend: her Cinderella story had taken a dark turn.


When the press picked up on the couple’s recent ‘unfollowing’ of each other, rumours circulated that Brooklyn and Hana had split.  However, Hana was soon back in the game, ‘liking’ one of her ex’s posts.  Tabloids noted that Brooklyn had failed to ‘re-follow’ Hana.  Days later, the two came face to face at an event where she allegedly sobbed.  He was over-heard shrugging “It is what it is.”  


Whatever Hana’s motives for peering back into her former lover’s life were, how can it ever be possible to move on when faced with images of an ex #livingtheirbestlife, daily?  There is no faster way to increase feelings of resentment and isolation. Recently, singer Lana Del Rey admitted creating a fake account to ‘spy’ on former partners.  Surely drawing out the agony just isn’t worth it?


There is nothing quite like the agony of scrutinising the private life of a person we once felt we belonged to via social media.  Suddenly, we’re an outsider, reading and analysing comments with the diligence of an MI5 officer and the emotional stability of a wild cat.


Is Following My Ex REALLY so damaging?


Studies are still at odds on whether social media is bad for our mental health.  This is in part due to a lack of long-term research.  Clearly, linking one’s self-esteem to the number of ‘likes’ we receive is a poor life choice.  As is hating on ourselves for not looking like a filtered Kardashian.  Or wondering why we’re stuck in rush hour traffic as opposed to executing a sun salute on a dramatic piece of coastline for a living, aka an ‘Instagram star’.  Most of us know this.  Yet, once our emotional states are thrown into chaos by a break-up, social media becomes an irresistible weapon of self-destruction.


Recovery is about setting ourselves boundaries.  Taking time out.  Practising self-care.  Meeting new people.  However, a social media connection to an ex can lead us into such a dark place that we can’t even think straight, let alone take a pragmatic approach to our own well-being.  We know we should be reading an uplifting novel instead of stalking Instagram until the early hours…but it’s just so painfully addictive.


The media sees Hana Cross’s re-following of an ex, and subsequent meltdown, as a newsworthy ‘story’.  But the truth is, millions of social media users are torturing themselves in this way every day.  Do we need a scientific study to tell us that this is bad news for our mental well-being?


So, what’s the answer? 


Self-discipline.


Remember the old saying “Enough is enough’?  Tell yourself this, repeatedly if necessary.  Go cold turkey.  Take a break.  Get busy working on the human connections that enrich your soul.  Allow yourself to remember the good times and let go of the pain.  Believe in the notion that everything will be better, very soon.  Don’t let anyone turn you into a night-stalker.


Self-policing is the only way to manage the internet era.  Facebook and Instagram are very happy for you to spend hours using them to drive yourself crazy.  They will NEVER admit that social media can cause mania in anyone - regardless of age or gender – when our emotional reasoning has been temporarily smashed to pieces.


So, let’s do it together.  Unfollow your ex; delete your fake ‘stalker account’ and MOVE ON with a belief in future love and happiness.