Ah, remember the days when dating meant waiting anxiously by the phone waiting for it to ring? The wondering if he would call the next day or three days later when you’d been pacing furiously wondering if he really liked how your hair looked in the moon light. Now, with a fully charged smart phones the wait is over. It’s immediate feedback, immediate interaction, immediate gratification… but why does it feel so personally impersonal?
Last year I was dating someone who lived in another state. We’d been able to get together a few times and we always had a great time. Long distance relationships are tricky and he admittedly didn’t like talking on the phone. With the plethora of digital platforms, we began using Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and text to stay in communication. At first, it was fun seeing what he was up to and with mutual friends we were able to interact and text all the time when we were apart.
However, the distance took it’s toll. If texts weren’t responded to immediately there were questions, assumptions and the communication took a downward spiral. It didn’t help that I worked days and he worked nights. And texting, however convenient, lacks tone and inflection so messages were misinterpreted, and passive aggressive and defensive comments became more normal. It was exhausting and he wasn’t even within 500 miles of me. It was too much.
One day, after a lot of work calls, and stress he sent me a message on Skype. I opened it while on the phone with my mom. I noticed I had some Twitter messages so I replied to a few. He then attempted to call my phone. My mom and I were in conversation so I let it go to voicemail. I was immediately rebuked for my lack of response. I had become so easily accessible to him, and so many others, that my every digital move was being analyzed.
He said, “I guess I’m truly not that important.”
When I commented back (via Skype), “I’M ON THE PHONE WITH MY MOM. JESUS CHRIST.” (caps means I’m yelling).
I got back, “Doesn't bother twitter does it? Or Facebook? Just me.”
I had no words. I still don’t. Two days later, after multiple fights revolving around the same theme it was over for good. All because my digital footprint was so readily available, under surveillance, and taken out of context. And so it ended. The infrastructure we’d built to stay connected did just as much to tear us apart.
So… yes, I text, I Skype, I Facebook, and Tweet. I can’t argue it’s convenience. But I also made a command decision. My heart does NOT and will not belong to the cyber world and interwebs.
Lesson Learned: When it comes to men in my life, I’m going back to the waiting game by the phone waiting for it to ring. Good thing I’m patient.