I’m guilty of it. You might be too. And it bothers me. Yet, I don’t know how to make it stop, and it may not stop for a very long time. I’m talking about this digital age that we are living in and admittedly feeding into its existence. Of course, I love a witty tweet and I admit that filters can make pictures seem more appealing, but do you ever think about what it’s all really doing to us? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my Instagram to be nearly the most interesting thing about me. Today, we have so many ways to connect with each other, but are they even bringing us any closer?
These things become particularly tricky when they “help” us to navigate life when we are young. It’s nothing new when the girl denies her nice friend who appreciates her and instead longs for the douchey guy who refuses to show her any attention. Or when the seemingly no-strings-attached hookup is followed by a realization from the less fortunate party that there was, in fact, something real there. Next thing you know, they’re on a weeklong bender spent with Drake’s music and their feelings. Everyone hates to see situations like these occur, but the way we go about communicating these days is often the root of them, time and time again. It’s because being desirable and cool is beginning to blend with aloof and disinterested. Face it, we think being clingy is worse than being a murderer or something, and if you’re deemed too nice too quickly, you are creepy. How many times will these things happen before we question the status quo?
Today, “the chase” is like a competition to see who cares less. And the presence of technology makes it ten times easier to achieve this bizarre balance – to be more connected and yet more distant. We have these devices that allow us to be accessible, yet we so often use them to achieve the opposite effect. I think it would serve us well to rearrange our priorities a little bit.
All of our accounts and profiles contribute to these carefully curated images of ourselves. Gone are the days when you actually had to put in the work to get to know someone’s likes and dislikes, quirks and oddities. Now, you can potentially find out someone’s college, major, job, circle of friends, favorite things, and inadvertently create some sort of judgment based upon these facts in around 30 seconds. Then, many of us are guilty of idealizing or writing off these people as a result. Moreover, it allows us to hold people up to unfair standards because we think we know them when we really don’t. We’ve even managed to create strange etiquette surrounding our ways:
“He stopped ‘liking’ my pictures.”
“Dude, I’m not going to text her during…the…day…”
“But, what does he mean by that?” Yikes. It’s as if we have so much extra fluff clouding our vision that we never really know what each other means anymore. Think about it. My generation has practically been credited with the overuse of the word “literally;” we clearly have trouble finding ways to express our point. Granted, there are a few instances when this sort of quick communication is useful. I appreciate the practicality of texting, for example, when I can send pictures of pugs to my best friend in Boston or perhaps warn my mother that my bank account is a harsh reality. However, when it enters the weird young love scene, I wish it didn’t exist.
It’s crazy to consider how much we rely on these new tools for communication in the beginning stages of blossoming relationships, perhaps when it seems most crucial to occur naturally. Maybe I feel this way because my text “game” is pretty sub-par (I double text everyone and I think people hate it), but I genuinely believe a lot of us would be in better shape without it. I know my friends and I alone could have probably written a novel in the amount of time we’ve spent “deciphering” text messages. That is enough of a reason for me to think that what was intended as a quick-fix solution instead often leads to worrying and over thinking. Humans have over 7,000 unique facial expressions, and too often, we’re not using any of them to help. And naturally, since talking in person is hard enough, the dramatic romantic gesture is like a rosy memory. I think back to my grandparents’ whirlwind love story (picture Titanic, except the ship doesn’t sink and everyone lives happily ever after), and I can’t help but wonder if it simply doesn’t work that way anymore.
Yet, no matter what I think about it, the digital age is surely here to stay. And I find myself, albeit reluctantly, very much a part of it. I’m not cynical, but I do want to call our bluff. Love and lust and dating is confusing enough; why do we spend so much time and effort trying to seem perfectly nonchalant about it all? Humans are not meant to be nonchalant; it’s just not in our make-up! The type of care and understanding we seek in companionship and relationships is a quintessential part of being human; that’s probably why masking this can feel so stifling. We’ve become so good at keeping up this facade that attempts to prove well, you’re more into this than I am, but at what cost? As a result, we’ve managed to become mediocre at expressing our true feelings in efforts to do so only as much as our object of affection. It’s like we’re always keeping score, giving away only as much as the other person; yet, so long as we do, we’re really only losing.
For me, apathy is terrifying; much scarier than honesty. We’re only doing ourselves a disservice by pretending like we don’t care; it’s just holding us back from what we’re truly capable of. Being honest or genuine with our feelings is intimidating, but if one thing is true, no one likes being vulnerable. It’s hard to do when dealing with matters of the heart and it’s way easier to seem detached, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t recognize that acting so does not make it so. I’d much rather accept the joy or pain that comes with being real and honest than to be a pointless robot. Those feelings that we attempt to push off with technology are part of the human experience.
So, I use the following plea to double as a challenge for myself. Go out there and tell people how you really feel – about them, about you, about anything. Not behind a screen but to their face. The harder it is, the more you probably should do it. It might feel strange and it won’t always elicit a similar response, but embrace all of it. Say it and don’t be bashful about it. It’s what the world needs. Technological discoveries are meant to help us perform activities more efficiently, which can be useful, but I don’t think we can let them replace the old-fashioned way in this case. We have devices to make communicating faster and profiles to make our lives seem more transparent and connected, but I don’t think these things are going to help us accomplish anything that really matters to us. We process so many messages and images everyday, yet I find myself yearning for a little less clutter and a little more meaning. So, I’m going to go out and find it, and I invite you to as well. Because at the end of the day, I want to be drunk in love, not drunk texting.