I knocked on the door of my friend’s room at the time of night in the girls’ hostel that is universally acknowledged as the period in which people commence talking to their boyfriends- the intangible, virtual ones.
The shrill beep of text message notifications, a base beat to the electronic hum of specific topical ring tones set for those specific topical persons. The symphony of beep, ring, beep punctuated by dull staccato bursts of mangled sounds issuing forth form neon screens as Skype tries to overcompensate for a lag in transmission from that long distance boyfriend by replaying, for its captive audience, his voice at thrice the speed over horrible Wi-Fi.
Conversations soldier on for hours- you enter their rooms several times during the night hoping to catch them for a brief un-connected moment but you ultimately go back to your own room and fall asleep over the voice of your roommate talking on the phone to you know who.
World Wide Web love. The romance that unfolds as stickers on Facebook and hike messenger. Cybernetic intimacy developed through sexting. The textationship.
You don’t realize when your fingers, tapping on the cell phone screen, bring you [virtually] close to another person tapping on another cell phone screen at another corner of the country or the world. In a few days, your textationship status is online. Your relationship status stays single. Your fingers tapping habitually on the name of that person to check if he is online. Active one hour ago. “Damn it! I missed him” you think. But at least he could have pinged me. You want to text him. The last response on the chat thread is yours. You don’t want to sound desperate to talk to him. So, you send him a random picture. 6 second video of a puppy being adorable. Seen. Still no reply. You re-read your conversation to make sure it’s not you- did you say something? The cycle continues. The next time, it is you who has not replied. And you wonder if he will text you. Hi. The textationship marches on. He says he wants a relationship. You are not sure. He texts you- nothing will change. A video -he loves you. Your friends tell you it won’t not last. You two will probably be able to meet once, twice if you are lucky. Still, you agree. A promise is made- you vow to yourself you will not be too attached. The habit turns into an addiction. Click click. Tap tap. D**** is typing… all night long until one of you falls asleep, all day every day.
The cliché that is a fact- nothing lasts forever. Hi-tech lovers gets bored too easily. Falls in and out of love too often. Everything is just a click away. That hazel off shoulder dress. Nike shoes. International news. Flight tickets. Love.
Facetime [if you’re not socio-economically challenged]
The search for a real boyfriend in a virtual world. A quest for love that will dissipate once discovered. An easy escape from monotonous single real life- monotonous coupled unreal life. Swipe and click. Friend request sent. Accepted. Hi, how are you? Your brain trained to multitask -you can breathe you can text. Eating and texting. Watching a movie and texting. Attending a lecture and texting. Working and texting. Talking to someone (tangible) and texting. Studying and texting. Texting. and texting Texting. Texting…
That nagging thought follows you around like your phone. Are you guys together? You think, of course, we are. There is a reason they call it virtual “reality”.
It is winter break. You are travelling by train. Two day journey. You meet someone. A tangible guy. You talk. You connect. Not through Wi-Fi. Through IRL auditory conversation. Your fingers habitually tapping the smartphone screen. But there is no network. He says he is not on any social media network. You stare at him in disbelief. He seems real and interesting. A question eventually sneaks up out of the lower berth of the train where you both are sitting. Do you have a boyfriend? Not really. There is a reason they call it “virtual” reality. He does not ask for your number but notes your email id. You check your inbox regularly. No mail from him ever received. You search for him on various social media sites. He is nowhere to be found in the virtual world -except on LinkedIn. Account created instantly. Swipe and click. Friend request sent. Accepted. Hi, how are you? Your fingers get used to this new virtual platform in just two days. He disappears. Two days and gone. The last text on the chat thread is yours. No reply from him. Weeks pass. You stop waiting for his reply. You do not text him back. No one wants to sound too desperate to talk.
The textationship continues. You’ve been chewing on this piece of gum for so long it’s lost its flavor- but if you spit it out now and you have nothing else to chew on, what will you do with your mouth? You are tired of feeling like a pendulum oscillating between loving him a little less and being addicted to him a little more. Then one day it ends. It lasted more than you had expected. Nine months. Just nine months. Nine whole months. You two never met. Your relationship was always intangible- purely theoretical. His phone number deleted. Messages deleted. Pictures deleted. Videos deleted. His Facebook profile blocked. Your friends tell you, “We knew it all long. It wasn’t love”. You are sad but you do not cry. Your fingers are restless to check if he is online or not. But you have already deleted his contact number. Nine months of continuous texting. You don’t remember his phone number.
Vow made to never get involved in a long distance relationship/textationship again. Some melancholy experienced by the trained brain and the habituated fingers that are temporarily useless. The idea of love and romance questioned. Was it a habit, an addiction or love? A temporary desire to deactivate all social media accounts. You cannot. What about the information that keeps you up to date? The batch group on WhatsApp where everything college related is discussed? The college notice board on Facebook? How can you miss out on all that? That is important stuff. The real world and virtual reality curl on themselves in a question mark.
But old habits die hard. The habituated fingers and trained brain force you to open your laptop and switch on your smartphone. And then…Swipe and click. Friend request sent. Accepted. Hi, how are you?
All images are taken from Pexels.com