Earlier this week, a middle-aged black man named “David” and another middle-aged black man named “Eric” bonded over the memory of an ex they share. According to them, this ex’s public persona was much different from her private one, and since they were both painted as “the person in the wrong” when each of their relationships with her ended, they were just happy to find someone—anyone—who’d believe them.
As you read this, versions of this relatively harmless and remarkably common conversation are happening in barbershops, bar lounges, bus stations and work break rooms right now. If you sincerely believe that your character was wrongly ruined by a breakup, it’s human nature to seek out those who’ve gone through something similar with that same ex for some type of vindication. And, when it happens privately, it’s cool.
But when you’re David Justice and Eric Benét and your very famous, mutual ex is Halle Berry, and you choose to air out your decades-old laundry—laundry for clothes that have been out of season since 1996—on the Internet for the entire world to see, it changes from “cool” to “Aren’t you a bit too old to be a f—kboy? Shouldn’t you be, I don’t know, at a Kenny Lattimore concert or getting a prostate exam today or something?”
That said, while Justice and Benét were roundly (and rightly) criticized for joining Twitter fingers to throw dirt on the grave of Berry’s most recent marriage, they’re far from the only people who thought it was a good idea to jump online and trash an ex. Unfortunately (for them), this is always a bad idea. No one in the history of Internet history has done this and not had it backfire in some way. So if you’re reading this and you’re considering doing it, don’t. Because …
1. It stays there … forever.
Unlike a private conversation you could forget completely about after five drinks—or, if need be, you could always just lie about it happening—once you post something on the Internet, it lives forever. Basically, if you’re ever tempted to do this, just think of Morgan Freeman’s face. Because your Facebook rant about your s—tty ex will grow to be as old on the Internet as he is.
2. You will likely lose whatever sympathy you had going for you.
No one aside from David Justice, Eric Benét, Olivier Martinez and anyone else who’s been in a serious relationship with Halle Berry knows what type of girlfriend or wife she is. Yet this hasn’t stopped people from making their own conclusions about what type of girlfriend or wife she is. And if Justice and Benét had just kept their mouths shut, the conclusions (right or wrong) would have continued to be made. But when you jump online to tell people about what type of person your ex happens to be, the sympathy shifts. Now the prevailing response is, “It doesn’t even really matter what they did. Why are you being so petty and spamming my timeline with this s—t?”
And if the rant is anything like the anti-ex rants I see on my Facebook newsfeed, “Why don’t you care about punctuation?” also comes to mind.
3. It makes you seem like a hypocrite.
If he was truly an “ain’t-s—t dude with a baby-carrot-sized d—k” and she was truly a “skank who smelled like rat burps and regret” … why did you stay with them for five years? I mean, his d—k wasn’t too small for you to share TMI memes in March about you “getting put to sleep,” and she didn’t stink bad enough for you not to have her sitting on your lap at Dave & Busters in that profile pic from 2014. Basically, you were either lying then or lying now, and no one believes you; you need more people.
And if you decide to try to work things out—which, from my estimation, 79 percent of the people who rant on exes online eventually do—no one will ever believe anything you ever say ever again. And you’re not getting invited to Thanksgiving.
4. It can subtly sabotage your future relationships.
Another drawback with sharing certain types of information on the Internet is that you can’t really control where it ends up. Sure, you can make things private and put all types of restrictions on your accounts, but all of that can be circumvented by a simple screenshot or a cut-and-paste. And if you can’t really control where it ends up, you can’t really control the audience. And that audience might include people you’re currently dating or might date some time in the future. And since most romantic relationships eventually end, being a good ex is almost as important as being a good mate. And you don’t want to brand yourself as “the person who s—ts on old exes.”
Basically, think of what Rich Dollaz would do. And then do the exact-opposite thing.
5. No one really cares.
Maybe you’ll get a like or a retweet or a share or two, but ultimately no one gives a damn about the minutiae of your ancient relationships. Not even your friends and family. S—t, not even your friends and family after they ask, “What ever happened to … ?” Because they’re just being polite, and them nodding their heads at your answers is just them attempting not to fall asleep.
Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VerySmartBrothas.com. He is also a contributing editor at Ebony.com. He lives in Pittsburgh and he really likes pancakes. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.