When Valentine’s Day rolls around, love is in the air. I am such a hopeless romantic at heart that Valentine’s Day always makes my eyes a little misty……I think of my wonder years and how this used to be an occasion to dream, whisper , giggle and blush about ; to send hand-made cards (in which we poured our hearts out) to that “someone” ; to talk sweet nothings on a black landline phone ; and to give and get small presents and to meet for coffee. That was it. Period. But the day left us feeling all gooey and mushy and sailing in a cloud for days after that…..
But those days seem to have been buried under a termite-ridden dustheap of oblivion. And V-Day is now a different ball game altogether. With hundreds of thousands of young digital natives turning to online dating and shopping, a day dedicated to romantic love and gifting chocolates and cards seems to have become passé. Digitalisation has changed the way the world celebrates V-Day. Today, youngsters send greetings through text messages, GIFs, selfies, and sometimes, only emojis. As for gifts, they have gotten way BIGGER — jewellery, spa treatments, vacations if you are loaded, and if you are not (then God help you), at least a gift card from some swanky shop will have to be given. I had begun wondering where the romance has gone, but then I realized that this IS the new age romance. Full of creative ways to express how you love !
In fact, Valentine’s Day has become such a gigantic marketing exercise that weeks before the Day, the entire commercial infrastructure gears up to badger you into believing that it is mandatory to be part of this sappy extravaganza, and if you aren’t, you’re a dud!
Honestly, if you were to ask the bubblegummers what they feel about the whole exercise, you’d be surprised to find them caught between the romance of it and the irksome necessity of it. The poor dears are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, so to say. So they just do what they think that everybody else is doing, strongly believing that if they don’t, they’d be ostracized. Tch, tch!
Sorry, I strayed away from what I really wished to say. I simply wanted to compare V-day then and now and, more importantly, is the occasion still about love or……y’know, just something to post on social media about. The digital age has brought us more ways than ever to say ‘I love you’ but is this a good thing or a bad thing for February 14th? Now we have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and e-cards and it’s very tempting to say the romance is gone…..but, we’re not so sure it has. Maybe there’s an upside? We’ll just check it out.
But before we do that, I was just wondering why love is now more about flaunting than actually feeling ; what’s up with the need to share our love lives online?
Instagram users have taken to issuing “weekiversary posts,” where they diligently mark the duration of their romances. And this makes some people doubt the intensity of their own relationship. They wonder why their partners are not similarly starry-eyed and gushing online. Some even admitted that this phenomenon prompted them to stay in relationships longer than they should have: they go on celebrating their weekiversaries, just to keep up appearances. Now that’s really sad and totally uncalled for. In truth, this applies to any of the social media platforms, where people increasingly feel the need to act their lives in real time in a public format, documenting every event and incident, no matter how remarkable or mundane.
I feel this is an unflattering view of weekiversary posts. Are they just one’s way of satiating the need for amour-propre—meeting the approval, and stoking the envy of online witnesses? Are they for one’s significant other at all? Or, are they for public affirmation?
Arghh…….I strayed again — sorry, really sorry.
To get back to romance in the digital age, the good news is that in a world that is growing lonelier with lesser socialization, it allows more introverts to find love. It allows you to meet people outside your geographical boundaries and social circle course. Then there’s the convenience and immediacy of the online world. Asking Siri or Alexa to remind you to buy some flowers online and following it up with an e-card may not sound terribly romantic but it’s a whole lot better than forgetting.
But while the digital age has made life easier for us, making the world truly a connected place to live in, the flip side is that people are now less connected on an emotional level. So, we often text instead of talking, video call instead of meeting face-to-face and send emoticons instead of articulating our feelings to our near and dear ones.
Gone are the days, though, when people used to communicate by writing letters to each other. Although committed couples thank the advancement in technology for bringing them closer despite the distance, technology sure has stripped off the charm and intimacy that a hand-written letter would have communicated effectively.
So, relationships in the digital age are just as relationships were earlier, but couples do need to keep a few things in mind. For instance, intimacy can only be shared when two people are looking at each other and not at their devices. Personally speaking, I would like to go back to the days of yore……..
No matter which side the coin flips, It’s your life and your decision.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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