Heartbreak in the digital age

I just had a heartbreak. Things didn’t work out the way I envisioned them but I guess it’s for the best. I do not write this with any malice or ill will in my heart but rather a tinge of amusement. This article is not about the other person (who’s an amazing individual) but about my efforts to move on. I’ve always been a very stuck up guy. Stuck up in my beliefs (sometimes good, sometimes bad), in my choices, in my attitude but mostly about my relationships. This includes both friendships and bonds both romantic and professional. I find it difficult to not dwell over the age old question “What went wrong? What could I have done to not cause a breakdown?”. Everyone does it. I am not special. But being a millennial, I battle not just the voices in my head but also my phone.

You see, dating ten years ago was drastically different from the amorphous monster it is now. When you date someone, you get “Good morning” messages every morning. There are hour long calls chatting absolute drivel on a daily basis where we pretend to be listening to music or talking to a friend when Mom walks up on us. One must know what the other person is up to every six hours! I always ask myself? Is this normal? Are we supposed to be like that? Dating in the era of WhatsApp and Instagram is like an involuntary CCTV surveillance operation! And it can be scaled to even international levels! Doesn’t matter if you live in Navi Mumbai or New Jersey. The other person if equipped with internet and a smartphone will know EVERYTHING you are up to as long as you are in that kind of a relationship and of course, if both sides are honest with each other. Why am I stating the obvious? Well, I really want you to ask yourself. Is this normal? Is this healthy!? Like smoking in the 1920s and 30s, we will only know the harmful effects of our new age addiction only decades later. Something about this just doesn’t feel right to me.

Coming back to dating in the digital age. Have you ever had an argument over your message not being replied to? Over a photo you’ve uploaded? A comment you made on someone else’s post? Hell, I’ve had fights over voice notes being ignored! I never said I was a healthy minded individual. Stop judging heathens! Just ask yourself how crazy is that!? Go back and find the source of some of your fights. I can guarantee social media has something to do with at least some of them! How were relationships before Zucks invaded our privacy (I know I post enough social media content to put CIA sleuths out of a job but please don’t stop me from bashing that weirdo)? People called each other on landlines and Payphones (remember those!?) like neanderthals and chatted for as long as the change ran out. If you lived with someone, they only knew about your day only after you came back home. For full twelve hours, if not more, you had NO IDEA about what the other person was up to. Insane if you ask me.

I have every right to know whether the other person hated the mayo with her sandwich that she had for lunch and of course posted on her Instagram story. Blasphemy, if I don’t get a text even once during her day. Why should I always text first? Can’t she text first once!? Basic respect man! It’s tough being a millennial damn (Wipes sweat with fidget spinner). Clicking a hundred pictures between the two of you. I swear my Mom and Dad had like 40 pictures between them before we got our first smartphone. I’ve more pictures than that of one date I went to at a brewery! Self obsessed? Naive? Immature? Remove the mirror please. We all are like this. What we do over a period of time is unknowingly build a repository of memories that we carry near our genitals for twelve hours a day. Our phones become vaults of personal moments and intimate conversations. But this is the textbook example of a double edged sword if there ever was one. Social media algorithms designed by psychopaths in Silicon Valley are meant to show you content from those who you interact the most with first. And what happens when you break all contact with that person?

Mayhem. Leaving aside the period of “Jo hua acche ke liye hua” and “you deserve better” from friends, there’s another battle to be fought. Like burying a loved one, you must lay to rest your social media memories with that person. Okay I maybe exaggerating but bear with me. Removing that person from your ‘Favourites’, waiting for the cool off period before Instagram stops showing their stories first, erasing chat histories, deleting pictures online and worst of all, deleting the photos from your phone. I know close friends who have cried after deleting digital traces of their past relationships. God knows I have cried doing something similar. Not all relationships are the same. But the serious ones, that went on longer than they were meant to, hurt the most when you reach this stage.

You see that person carrying on with their lives and do so yourself. Like a dance that mustn’t be stopped, you put up appearances. For who? Why do we do this to ourselves? Getting asked questions about the absence of the other person in your digital life from people living in a separate continent is hilarious to me! But it happens. That’s the way we live nowadays. And it isn’t easy. Any person above the age of thirty will absolutely mock this article but you, you twenty something, you know what I am talking about. What happens if you block the other person or get blocked by them!? I personally know people who have taken screenshots of their ex’s social media activity because they were blocked! I’ll go to hell if I deny I haven’t done it myself! And all this is extremely common. And sad. And most importantly, avoidable.

Forgetting someone who was so close to you isn’t easy. Murdering your digital memories makes it worse. It all makes me long for the time when long distance lovers would communicate via scented letters meant to be read in absolute secrecy. Just burn them once it’s done! Cathartic I imagine. I am coming across as an emotional fool right now. Because I am one. And I won’t apologise for it. That’s who I am. That’s what makes me the best version of myself. Denying yourself emotions is to men what “I don’t know what to eat, you order.” is to women. And it’s unhealthy. And I am writing this not just for myself but also for each and everyone of you struggling with a digital funeral. I know what you feel and what you feel is absolutely normal. Give yourself time to grieve. Kill your digital memories or they’ll hurt you like they hurt Leonardo Di Caprio’s character in Inception. Memories and emotions are what we are. Nothing else. Make sure you only carry positive ones. You might feel like you are a failure. You are not. Zucks is. He is messing with our heads. Don’t let him.

I love you! Have a great weekend!

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