I loved this article on how exes "live on" in our lives because of social media. We may still be connected via so many different sites, it can be impossible to escape their ongoing lives. Short of unfriending people, blocking them, and using extreme willpower to keep yourself from checking up on people, exes live on in our social spheres.
What's the protocol for contacting an ex? The author of this article seemed to have the attitude that contacting exes is simply a consequence of our social media environment. It may bring about uncomfortable, awkward, or self-pitying moments, but it's not something we can really help at this stage of being so overwhelmingly connected.
Here's my reality check: we can help it. You can unfriend people, block them so they don't show up in your feeds- if you really don't want to be connected to your exes anymore. My personal philosophy about relationship leads me to believe that exes can be friends; relationships have the ability to be dynamic and flexible, given that the individuals are willing to move through that change.
However, I don't think this means there aren't some basic rules of etiquette around contacting exes. An ex asked you to not contact them anymore? Don't contact them. You and an ex parted amicably but haven't talked in months? Don't text them to tell them about your latest sexcapades. You and an ex parted amidst super drama? Don't message them on Facebook to offer your latest fantasy. All of this, in my opinion, is weird.
Analyze your motivations for contacting exes, and for "checking up on them." What are you hoping to gain? Does the communication you want to engage in make sense given where your romantic relationship ended, and where any friendship after the break-up has gone? Explicit communication is key: if you want to be friends again, tell them that. Then respect the relationship for how it moves and shifts; don't force it.