I Love It When You Retweet Me

“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.

Romance in the digital age.

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.

A Vacation From the Internet

Last week, I enjoyed a fabulous, all-inclusive vacation in Mexico. I spent the week with family and friends on the Caribbean Sea, sipping drinks on the beach, enjoying 80 degree weather, and working on my tan in January–oh and visiting ancient ruins in Tulum.  I could not have asked for a better vacation.  At the end of the week, I was truly sad to leave which can be a rare feeling after a family vacation.

One of the most surprising highlights of the trip was taking a vacation from the Internet. I never thought I would be so happy to ditch my iPhone, my laptop, Twitter, Facebook, gchat, Tumblr, WordPress, etc.   It wasn’t until I started having digital separation anxiety days before the trip that I realized just how addicted I am to the charms of the interwebs. However, once in Mexico, I let my iPhone go dead and didn’t look back! No chatting, no updating statuses, no Facebook creeping.  Instead of tweeting every five minutes, I tweeted once during the week vacation (I guess you can’t quit Internet addictions cold turkey). Taking a vacation from the Internet was just what I needed to curtail my social media addiction and here is what I found:

  1. Ignorance really is bliss. I don’t need to know what everyone else is  doing, thinking, feeling at all times. In fact, I’d prefer not to.
  2. Face-to-face conversation trumps all other forms. Social media is a fabulous way to keep in touch with people, but nothing beats meeting with those people in person.
  3. Make time to stop and smell the roses. I hate being that person who is always on their darn phone looking at Twitter updates, so it was nice not to have that option. It really forces you to soak in your surroundings and live in the moment!
  4. I really do prefer Twitter over Facebook. At least this week. Twitter doesn’t bombard you with tons of useless information as Facebook tends to.  I really like 140 character limit on Twitter.

Because of the way technology has advanced and the rising popularity of social media, it’s silly to think that a person should spend their entire life offline and not on a computer. However, now that I have taken an Internet Vacation, I have found a much-needed balance between my digital life and my real life. There is a time and a place for being connected and that time is not all the time.