Every writer’s greatest fear (besides the inconceivable grammatical/spelling errors that people continue to make in conversation and on social media websites) is falling prey to the mega arch nemesis that takes form in a single word: generic. As writers, we despise the fact that another within our circle might share the same ideas and opinions. I’ve said it before and I’ll continue to stand by it: Writers, down to the tiniest, deepest crevice of their core, work their whole lives to be original. It’s the way it is and the way it will be for a very long time. So imagine the see-saw ride of emotions I experienced upon coming across an article in the April issue of GQ that discussed the same exact topic I planned on writing about that very week.
Amen to Damn you, Mickey Rapkin.
I’ll be honest. It was both extremely flattering and agonizingly frustrating to be in this particular pickle. Here’s why. I’m not a fan of tooting my own horn or bragging about some inbred awesomeness when it comes to my writing; however I do think that the topics I choose to explore and discuss are, well, sweet. Of course, my content isn’t the smartest. And I’m sure there is some blogger out there whose style shamelessly trumps mine. But the truth is, I take pride in my writing. I’m proud when my ideas catch fire and ignite people, as many as possible. 20somethings, college students, girls getting ready to walk down the aisle, guys struggling to find themselves—writing for them creates this huge umbrella of opportunities for me to explore. If that is all my writing will ever accomplish, I’m nothing short of grateful.
That being said, I’m no moron. I know that writers are everywhere. They’re talented, they’re inventive; their material is fresh, intoxicating. If I compared my article concepts against those of every writer in New York, I have no doubt that the majority of them would be duplicated. We’re writers, not Martians, and we’re often drawn to similar subjects. I’m not naïve enough to believe otherwise. But when I read the title of this article, my heart did a little dance. Sure, it meant that this Mickey Rapkin character beat me to it, but it also meant something extraordinary. The same idea that was floating through my head after an innocent night out with my boyfriend also crossed Mickey Rapkin’s mind; so much so that she went ahead and had it published in GQ Magazine, the modern threshold of editorial greatness.
That’s something worth celebrating, right? And what better way to do so than to write a special little something of my own. And being that the topic has already been covered, head to toe, by a professional, I decided to approach this blog differently than I’ve done in the past. No lengthy lists. No speeches. No grand conclusion. Instead, I present to you, without further adieu, an experiment. Let’s call it iLove. Ask any semi-educated, middle school graduate how to properly conduct an experiment, and they will blurt out two venomous words: scientific method.
Now I’ve never been a science nerd (I stick to literature, thanks), but I can’t seem to come up with a more comprehensive way to answer the question that has been nagging me for months: What is technology really doing to our relationships?
And here you have it.
Step 1: Ask a question
Is technology speeding up the progression of relationships?
Step 2: Do Background Research
Type “technology and relationships” into your web browser and you are guaranteed to find blogs, articles, images, and feminine rants discussing how the Internet transforms a once-happy relationship into a virtual battlefield. Back in the day, courtship was simple. Girl meets Guy (in person). Guys asks girl for her number (house phone). Girl waits for a call from Guy for days (or what may seem like light years). Guy asks Girl out (dinner and a movie). Guy picks Girl up (probably in his parent’s car). Guy walks Girl to her door (PG-rated plot). Girl waits for another call from Guy (stereotypical, but true).
That. Is. All. They don’t connect through a dating website or on Facebook. They don’t email each other their cell phone numbers. There is no pre-date communication via text whatsoever. Messages exist only on the answering machine in your mother’s bedroom. Flirting is done in person or over the phone, not with emoticons and retweets. The progression is slow and careful; not treated as a rush job that requires you to like 1/3 of their profile pictures before they message you on Skype. It’s just like Drew Barrymore said in He’s Just Not That Into You:
“I had this guy leave me a voice mail at work, and so I called him at home, and he emailed me to my BlackBerry, and so I texted to his cell, and now you just have to go around checking all these different portals just to get rejected by seven different technologies. It’s exhausting.”
We know this, we understand this; and yet, we purge on through the text storms, raging with dragon-like fire when our boyfriends don’t answer our inconsequential text messages in a span of three hours. People used to wait three days for a response; and now, three hours has turned into a struggle. This is technology and relationships. It’s turned us into maniacal, Twitter-driven, Facebook-probed, iPhone-ready warriors who are in constant communication with each other. The idea of relying on payphones and letters to get in touch with the people we love is ancient. We do it because it’s romantic, charming, a brief step back into the yesteryears that our parents describe to us over coffee; not because it’s our first option.
But what if we’re missing out on something in exchange for all of these tech-savvy advancements? All of that anticipation after a first date, waiting near the house phone, checking your answering machine for the 10th time in four hours, wondering what he’s thinking all the way on the other end of the phone line—where has it all gone? Did it disappear? No, it was replaced by the not-so-subtle song lyric tweets that we’re all guilty of thumbing when we feel like it’s the right time to tell the world (and the one) how we feel. Maybe, in this case, less leads to more. Maybe it’s that feeling that keeps us coming back; and without it, our relationships become boring and predictable.
Step 3: Construct a Hypothesis
Technology, to a severe degree, causes relationships to speed up to a point where words are to conversations as Chinese food is to hunger: empty, unfulfilling, but sometimes, delicious.
Step 4: Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
I, KrisCappaWhat, have volunteered myself (and my boyfriend) to undergo this experiment. For three days, I monitored the frequency and mode of communication between the two of us. If a microscopic view of my 21st century relationship is what it takes to knock some sense into the world, a microscopic view is what you’re going to get.
*Please take into account the three-hour time difference between New York and Las Vegas.
1:50PM: I store up all kinds of shit from my morning (interviews, maybe meeting Jon Hamm at my friend’s office, what the hell I’m wearing to work, probably more useless information) so that when I text him, I won’t leave out any of the crucial details.
4:19PM: He answers my text. We opt to talk on the phone instead. We text twice after I hang up. I can’t possibly fathom a guess as to what was discussed.
9:12PM: Short texting conversation
11:00PM: Skype date
11:15PM: We tweet an inside joke to each other.
10:53AM: I text him a picture of my work outfit.
1:10PM: He responds to said text. The conversation ends 20 minutes later.
5:35PM: An exchange of “I miss you’s” ensues (my bad for the rhyming).
8:27PM: Some more nonsensical texting
11:11PM: We end the night talking on the phone.
1:39PM: I text him good morning.
3:54PM: He actually answers -______-
10:14PM: He sends an “I miss you” text.
11:42PM: We Facetime for 28 minutes.
Step 5: Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
WE TALK WAY TOO EFFING MUCH. And unless we’re the only crazy couple out there, you probably do too.
Step 6: Communicate Your Results
Based on my experiment, my research, and my own opinions on the matter, I have no other option but to agree with my initial hypothesis. Yes, technology is a beautiful thing. It allows us to bridge gaps across oceans and time zones. It gives us the chance to connect with people we would have never met otherwise. But it also serves as the crutch by which our relationships function on a day-to-day basis. Constant communication certainly isn’t a curse to society, but it creates these unrealistic standards of what a relationship is supposed to be. Posting a link to your favorite new jam won’t make your boyfriend love you any more or less (if he’s a good boyfriend). Texting your girlfriend pictures of every meal you consume won’t affect her feelings towards you (unless your eating habits are that strange). Of course, the occasional “I miss you” and “I love you” is sweet. I’m the first to admit that. But those texts should be reserved for the times you really do want to say those things, because after a while they lose their meaning.
I guess that’s what my argument really comes down to—meaningful conversations. How many do we have left before we run out of things to talk about? Thanks to technology, there’s no way to tell. But you do have a say in the matter. Don’t stay on the phone with nothing to say just because you miss someone. It doesn’t fill the void that their absence has created. Texting all day about nothing won’t make the distance any easier to deal with. Remember the beauty of not knowing everything about the person you’re dating? The mystery, the curiosity, the allure—it’s one of the best parts of finding love. So don’t allow technology to leave your relationship hollow. Follow Mickey Rapkin’s advice: The key is to lasso the tech and rein it in. Limit the technology and give your relationship the time and opportunity to actually flourish into something beyond pixilated images and unreliable airwaves. Be simple, for once in your life.
And when your cell service sucks, just read a book instead of holding your iPhone up in the air. I’m sure you look just as desperate as I do.