Taylor Swift, Please Delete Your Ex’s Location

Look! There he is. Credit: Mashable Composite; Art Alex / iStock / Mike Marsland / WireImage / Ashok Kumar/TAS24 / Getty

Don’t stalk your ex on Find My Friends — even if Taylor Swift does it.

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Swift released a new album or two today that, in part, chronicles her breakup with her boyfriend of six years Joe Alwyn, and, in an even bigger part, her months-long situationship with the controversial 1975 frontman Matt Healy. Don’t worry too much for the billionaire; she’s now happily coupled-up with football star Travis Kelce. But the album isn’t about @killatrav. This album is about Alwyn and Healy and, most of all, experiencing the humiliation of a breakup publicly. 

In one song, The Black Dog (no connection to Led Zeppelin), Swift sings about looking at her ex’s location on, probably, the Find My app.

I am someone who until recent events/ You shared your secrets with/ And your location, you forgot to turn it off/ And so I watch as you walk/ Into some bar called The Black Dog/ And pierce new holes in my heart/ You forgot to turn it off/ And it hits me

Here’s the thing: Swift is willing to sue you for tracking her private jet, but she feels confident singing about following her ex’s physical location after they broke up. It reads like she did it without him knowing, too, and the lyrics implied that he meant to turn it off, but “forgot to.” (Absolutely wild thing to admit as one of the most famous women in the world, brother.)

To be fair, whomst among us.

Like with much of Swift’s work, this is relatable. When you go through a breakup, it’s difficult for you and your ex to detangle your digital lives from each other. It’s a person you loved, or at least liked. Maybe you wanted their location to see how long it would take them to get home, so you’d know when to start dinner; you wanted their location so you could give them a quick kiss at the bar on your way to the train; or maybe you wanted their location so you could surprise them with flowers. There’s nothing inherently wrong with following your partner’s location or sharing your location with them. 

But once you break up, you forfeit the location-tracking. Of course, it’s uncomfortable to take away location-tracking because, when you do it, it notifies the other person. They know that you don’t want to see where they are, or you don’t want them to see where you are — and frankly, that doesn’t feel very nice. But breakups don’t feel very nice. Be a grown-up!

Once you break up, you forfeit the location-tracking. I’m obviously not in any position to give Swift personal advice, but here’s some advice to the rest of us normies: Do not follow your ex’s location after you break up. It might feel similar to stalking an ex on social media, but at least they’re in control of what they publicly post, and unless they’ve blocked you, they know you can see their updates. Following someone’s location after you’ve broken up is quite literally stalking. 

It’s also bad for your mental health. Every time you stalk your ex on social media, you’re releasing dopamine and triggering this vile little motivation system in your brain, keeping you hooked — following their physical location is arguably worse. As Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, told Mashable’s Elena Cavender earlier this year, “When it starts to preoccupy your thinking and you become too invested in this person that you’re stalking, but you’re not getting any new information, you start to expend an unhealthy amount of energy in a virtual space.”

More than that, and my deepest condolences to all Swifties who may disagree with me, the song plays with the idea of how painful it is to see her ex’s location, but it doesn’t do it in a way that implies she’s in on the joke; that only deepens the irresponsibility and madness of following an ex’s location. It’s a truly out-of-this-world thing to admit to doing, though Swift is nothing if not brutally diaristic.

Which leads me to question: Where are Swift’s friends? If a friend of mine followed their ex’s location, saw that they went to a bar, began spiraling about how it “pierce[d] new holes in [their] heart,” and told me or any of our other friends, we would immediately point out how deranged they had become. We would tell them it was weird and unfair to their ex, and that they needed to delete their ex’s location from their phone. It would be an immediate, devastating, and unpleasant interaction. But it would save them heartbreak and, at the very least, would stop them from singing about it publicly, like Swift did.

Please, stop following your ex’s location. Don’t let your ex follow your location. It’s better for your brain, it’s better for your heart, and it’s better for your relationship — or lack thereof — with your ex. Stalking is not the cornerstone to anything worth building upon, including a road to reconnection or recovery. And while you’re at it, maybe don’t look into people’s windows either.

Christianna Silva is a Senior Culture Reporter at Mashable. They write about tech and digital culture, with a focus on Facebook and Instagram. Before joining Mashable, they worked as an editor at NPR and MTV News, a reporter at Teen Vogue and VICE News, and as a stablehand at a mini-horse farm. You can follow them on Twitter @christianna_j.

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