The Digitization of Strong Feelings

“I love you” – what more can you sayto/hear from the one you hold so dear? OK, you could expand it by saying “I love you so much”, “I’ll love you forever” and so on…However, in the end it all comes down to “I love you”. Those three little words combined form one of the most wonderful and powerful sentences to say/hear, don’t they? But…yes, there’s always a “but”, I think that, these days, a big part of love has lost its meaning among certain parts of society.
I’m referring to the digital world, specifically social networks and mobile phones.

Of course the networks and phones offer a great deal of means of social interaction which isn’t bad. No, on the contrary, they’re good to stay in contact with people or to get to know new people, the latter entailing certain risks but that’s another story. What bothers me more is the fact that the important parts of life tend to be shifted into the digital world.  It might make some parts of life easier I can’t and won’t deny that but there are certain things (for want of a better word…maybe issues, anyways) that just don’t belong into the digital world.

This is where love is brought into play. Feelings like love (or even hate) have no place in such a world. OK, there is nothing wrong about writing a message or an e-mail containing some words of devotion and love. It’s just that love shouldn’t be “limited” to the confines of digital life lest it becomes impersonal. Actually, that’s the worst that can happen. Would it still be love then?

Maybe I’m a bit old-school about things but I just cannot imagine my love in a world that is not really tangible.
Well, how does this kind of relationship begin? Of course, changing your relationship status from “single” to “in a relationship”. This provokes a storm of surprises and curiosity as it results in a hundred messages being sent to you, each of them containing the same questions: “who”, “when”, “why”…you name it. Then there are the exaggerated status messages: “Honey, I love you. Love of my life, you’re the best that ever happened to me”. Ok, actually there’s nothing wrong about it. However, posting this after a week is somewhat overstated. Especially the second part is as you simply can’t say that after a week. At the beginning everything’s like peace, love and harmony (or maybe hormony, if that even makes sense). No one knows how his/her counterpart behaves in hard times. Maybe he/she leaves the sinking ship immediately. And, honestly, is that what you expect the love of your life to do? No, so beware of jumping to conclusions.

What follows now are the pinboard entries. The endless oaths of love posted day by day which anyone can read. There’s nothing bad about writing some nice words but why not wait until you see each other. Saying what you feel might be a bit more difficult than writing but it’s so much more personal and it has a wonderful effect. Well, if you have to write them down, write a love letter. Handwritten, on beautiful writing paper. No printed Word document.

Yes, again, I might be somewhat old-school and maybe you can even call me a lost or hopeless romantic. You know what? You may even be right. I like spending an evening candlelit evenings with music or watching a movie or even just talking. I like snuggling up under a blanket in front of an open fire (a real open fire, not one of these open fires on DVD). In short I like it romantic. Why? Because it always is an undescribably wonderful experience of which I wouldn’t want to miss one second.

No digital world can create such an intimacy. No digital world can create such a feeling of closeness. In fact, no digital world can create such an experience, i.e. no digital world can be (this) romantic. So the question that comes to mind is “Why do so many people move their relationships into such a world (especially adolescents)?” I guess it’s because of lost values. When I was a child and later an adolescent my parents taught me values that really are lost on today’s youth (acutally I’m not that old, although my fellow blogger would say something else :-P, but it’s been a few since since my adolescence). Today it feels like love’s become more of a competition than a feeling. What counts, it seems, is having as much “relationships” as possible in a short time. That’s not what you call love, is it? So, it all has to do with the loss of values. I mean if you have no idea of what love actually is then how can you really love someone? If you don’t know how to drive a car then you don’t drive, do you? Otherwise you’d crash it. It may be a strange comparison but I think it fits because if you have the wrong idea of love you will certainly crash it.

So, let’s better move love to a world we can handle. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe being in love is asking too much of a lot of people because they never learned how to deal with it, i.e. in the real world. In contrast everyone knows how to use the internet, especially social networks, to deal with things. I mean, these days the most banal things are arranged via the internet. “Google just told me that Coitus Interruptus wasn’t a Roman Emperor.” Well, if you’d paid attention you would’ve know that since the sixth grade. Anyway, if the internet can handle that, why shouldn’t it be able to handle a relationship.

Don’t tell me that’s impossible ’cause that’d be wrong. I do know people who did that. I don’t know if that still do but that doesn’t matter. They did it. Whenever they encountered a problem they met online and discussed it. “What did you say? Go online, we must talk.” Why? Why not discuss it in person? I guess some people just lack the courage. You can plan a trip over the internet but you can’t solve a problem this way, at least not a problem concerning your relationship. Whenever we are online, we’re not the same. Some more than others but each of us has an Alter Ego. The internet-me that is so much braver than real-life-me. How often did you say things online you wouldn’t dare to say into someone’s face? Right, quite often I guess. Why? Because you can. How often do people lie on dating sites? Again, quite often. Why? Yes, ’cause they can. “Misdeeds” become easier and so values shift to the negative or get lost completely on some people. There is nothing more cleansing than a good and honest face-to-face conversation/discussion. Lovers are supposed to be friends as well and with good friends you can have these conversations. I shouldn’t get started on arguments. How can you have a real argument via a messenger program? That simply does not work. “Don’t you write that again or I’ll give you the evil-look smiley!!!” “If you give me that smiley I’m gonna give you the bomb emoticon!!!” Honestly, that can’t be it, can it? Consequently, talking face-to-face is still the best way to solve a problem, as hard as it may be sometimes. When you really talk about something you’ll feel the burden fall off your shoulders. And that’s one good feeling. You will not nearly get the same effect with instant messaging.

Before coming to an end on this rather long post I’d like to bring the relationship to an end. After four weeks (just to name a period of time) one of the lovebirds realizes that “the love of my live” just isn’t the right person. “The best that has ever happened to me” has simply become a pain in the a**? But how tell her? Oh well, that’s easy: the way it started. Go to your social network profile and change the relationship status from “in a relationship” to “single”. Certainly, all hell will break loose again and you’ll be bombarded with questions. Howsoever, the deserted partner will either discover the break-up himself or someone’ll tell him “Hey, I didn’t know that X broke up with you.” And now’s the time the world, the real one, collapses around you. No matter how much the relationship was shifted into the online world, the feelings were real. That’s what you’ll realize right then and then the sky crashes down, too. There’s is nothing more humiliating than discovering someone left you by reading “X changed her relationship status from ‘in a relationship’ to ‘single’. It’s hard enough to be left by someone but being humiliated this way, no one deserves that. Each break-up raises questions on the abandoned partner’s side. These questions have to be answered because there a few things more tormenting than a broken heart and uncertainty. This is why, here again, a clarifying conversation is inevitable. The same holds true for breaking up via short or instant messages. It’s just unfair.

Finally, I can say that big feelings are digitized because we often lack the ability to deal with them in proper ways. We move them into a world where we feel secure and in control. A world that we can just disconnect from when things seem to get out of hand ’cause we’re braver. We don’t have to fear immediate consequences. We can just disconnect and do something else. Without looking back. In real life it’s some much harder to turn around, walk away and not look back. Try it. The minute your out of your partner’s sight you realize you made a big mistake. This is why I think big feelings don’t belong into social networks. Big feelings belong into the real world so that we can learn how to deal with them, how to have a discussion/an argument, how to solve a problem. Let’s not hide behind a mask because when push comes to shove we’re definitely going to lose them.

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2 responses to “The Digitization of Strong Feelings

  1. I loved this post because I’m a total hopeless romantic. I’ve never been in love so I don’t have personal experience with this, but I do see a lot of Facebook posts and other social networks things where someone is declaring their love for someone. I never understood it! It’s as if they need to show everyone in the whole world that they are in love. In fact, my brother does that exact thing with his girlfriend. Every anniversary and so on it’s a big production for everyone to see. I really think it should stay personal. If you can’t actually be with them that day, private message them, or better yet, Skype them. You can see them face to face!
    A whole other thing is ending relationships though social networks. I’ve noticed a lot of girls lately that have been dumped though a text. It personally shows that the guys doesn’t have the guts to say it to her face. I got some good advice from my teacher who writes relationship advice columns about what to do if a guy breaks up with you over a text or Facebook. She said just not reply to make them wonder if you ever saw the text. You just don’t reply and do anything and wait for him to have to actually face you face-to-face. I thought it was pretty genius. It seems as if more relationships are based on digitization nowadays.

    Like

    • So many parts of everyday life are kinda transferred into the digital world. Some can take it and some can’t because they just don’t belong there. It’s no big difference to buy something over the internet or go into a shop but there’s one hell of a difference between posting and saying “I love you”, isn’t there. And maybe the internet is too blame for a lot of guys and girls lacking the guts for face-to-face-confrontations because they never learned to deal with someone this way.

      Like

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