“Will our tales of digital courtship capture the imaginations of our daughters? Will they be impressed when we tell them about that time the text message was misinterpreted, or how the cute boy re-tweeted our Vampire Weekend reference? Will they care?”–Charlotte Alter, “Guns, Ammo, Romance?” Published November 17th in the New York Times.
When I was small, I never imagined that my heart would palpitate at the sight of an instant message from my real life crush’s screenname, an unexpected text message from a beau, or a retweet. Sometimes it creeps me out how much of a thrill I get from connections in the digital world while ignoring what is lacking in the actual world. A retweet? That’s all I get? No handwritten letter? No surprise visit? No stroll down the lane? No reading sonnets aloud by the fire? No fortepiano duets? No froggy went a-courtin’? Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong era.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think any of this is any one particular person’s fault, it’s just a sign of our times. Things progress as they always do, but I’m just a little disappointed that my stories of romance will never rival the ones my grandma told. I can just picture the tales of romance I’ll recount to my grandchildren some day:
“Hey kids, you want to hear about romance? Let me show you my gchat history! You’ll read some very romantic exchanges in there!”
“Grandma, why is there a 30 minute time-lapse between responses?”
“Oh never you mind. Want to read some of my old text messages? See there was this boy and he texted me to ask me how my day was going and…”
“Let it rest, Grandma.”
“I think I have one love letter somewhere…”
“We’ll take your word for it.”
No, I imagined my stories of romance would be more like my grandma’s. Tales of being escorted home from school by a handsome boy; letters from the WWII front; a man who demanded to paint her portrait, a portrait which hung in her house for 50 years; the man she met at a church fair who later became my grandpa.
While all of these things are all still possible, technology has taken away the urgency of face-to-face contact. As an
obsessed avid iPhone user, I definitely enjoy a surprise text or tweet, but it doesn’t really make for a great story. I don’t quite know what the answer is, except that I want stories that could at least be in the same category as those tales of romance my grandma once told me. In the meantime, I guess I’ll settle for a retweet.
It’s just not quite the same is it….
I think it has something to do with how people connect. The mediums we use now to communicate have physical layers that actually separate us….sending a letter that is then handled by other humans who deliver it to you has a different emotional resonance than a text or electronic communication that pass through layers of fiber optics or the air to get to you. I think there is a real, tangible effect that is related to the mystery of why we actually communicate with each other. But our science and math and quantifiable tools are a long way off from measuring that. Wow I sound a little off the map. Hah.
I agree with what you’re saying. The mediums that we use to communicate now have actual physical layers that separate us. Also, I feel like today’s mediums of communicating are highly addictive. Have you seen those studies that show the effects of social media on the brain? They say the highs that people get from getting these kinds of messages are similar to the highs that serious drug addicts get. Yikes.