These days when we can make oblique references to people on social networks or blogs can be a surefire recipe for paranoia.
I recall a friend S. who I had been exchanging a few emails with in relation to a delicate situation she had found herself in with a none too important politician. My advice had mostly been tactful but I recall firing off a one line joke that was possibly sailing too close to the wind.
I received no reply which was uncharacteristic. Then I noticed a rant appearing on her Facebook page about outrageous advice from hypocritical people. Naturally I assumed she was not referring to me but I had this uncomfortable feeling it might indeed apply to me.
My suspicion gained some ground when I was unceremoniously defriended. Then six months later I was suddenly emailed out of the blue by S. who informed me I was forgiven. Which was kind of big of her.
It's bad enough to think you are being written about on Facebook. But it must be much worse when you are the antagonist in a popular song that's on every radio station.
There are few more vitriolic songs than Alanis Morisette's 1995 hit "You Oughta Know." There was much speculation at the time that it was written about her ex-boyfriend Dave Coulier.
Just this week Dave revealed he also has a bit of a hunch it was about him.
“There was a lot of familiar stuff,” he said. “But the one that got me was, ‘I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner.’”
“We had already broken up,” he said. “She called and I said, ‘Hey, you know, I’m right in the middle of dinner. Can I just call you right back?’ And so I remembered that line when I heard ‘You Oughta Know,’ and it was more like, ‘Uh-oh.’”
That would certainly be an uh-oh moment particularly as the lyrics of the song are not particularly charitable to Dave and include the verse.
Did you forget about me Mr. Duplicity
I hate to bug you in the middle of dinner
It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced
Are you thinking of me when you f*** her?
Yeah sorry I don't have an adult content button on my blog. I've thought about it but most of the content is too juvenile for that.
Dave seemed to take it in good spirit saying his ex was really a good natured person who was not vindictive in the slightest. As Morisette's former nanny can testify - in a court of law, most likely.
Another famous song that has long been seen as a way to get back at an ex was You're So Vain by Seventies singer Carly Simon.
Quite a few of her ex-lovers thought the song was about them as well as fitting well into the lyrics - including Mick Jagger, Kris Kristofferson, Cat Stevens and Warren Beatty. Indeed Beatty was said to be convinced the song was about him.
So it was something of an anticlimax when the singer revealed in 2010 the song wasn't about an ex at all but openly gay record producer David Geffen.
For those from a younger generation a record is ... never mind.