Boy meets girl - scratch that. Boy texts girl. Girl texts back. Boy and girl facetime. Boy proposes to girl. Girl and boy get married. Boy and girl finally meet in person. Boy and girl get a divorce.
Now although this exact situation isn’t the most relatable, everyone in this new generation has had at least one person that they meet through technology. Whether it’s texting, social media, or dating apps, there have been conversations between individuals that have only existed on the glaring white screens. Now you may be thinking “Isn’t technology great?! We get to meet people so easily and connect to a wider outreach of people!” And yes, technology does have its advantages, but you must admit that it’s slightly uncomfortable to meet someone for the first time and feel like you have to introduce yourself, while simultaneously already knowing their dog’s name and the street they grew up on. Face to face for the first time, your eyes meet and quickly shift away while reluctantly shuffling your feet towards one another. After saying a quick hello before scurrying off in the opposite direction, you grab your phone and continue your conversation that was interrupted by the same stranger on the other side of the screen.
This uncomfortable meeting, while seemingly small, is a large problem because meeting online automatically strains a relationship that could have had greater potential. For this reason, it’s pivotal to take a step back, disconnect yourself, and meet someone face to face.
Personally, I’ve had my fair share of electronic introductions, but there’s one specifically that stands out to me because poor Bobby never learned how to talk with his mouth instead of his fingers. Now I know what you’re thinking - Bobby sounds like an overweight, middle-aged, balding man, but in reality Bobby was pretty attractive. He was no DiCaprio, but a solid choice - smart, athletic, seemingly nice. He had a lot of friends and always seemed to be the center of the conversation. Perhaps it was the female sex as a whole that made Bobby cower, because to this day I still have never heard Bobby’s voice.
After befriending some of his teammates (from his ice hockey team), I got a friend request from Bobby on your run of the mill social media app, and I was instantly intrigued. I had never spoken to Bobby but had always had intentions of sparking the flame at one point. Bobby and I talked all night. And then again. And then again. And within a blink of an eye, Bobby soon grew to be my most frequent technological conversation, surpassing my closest friends and most recent crushes. We talked about everything you could imagine: pets, life aspirations, favorite foods. I knew the ins and outs of Bobby.
So you’d think that when I was hanging around the ice rink, chatting with his friends, Bobby would stroll right up and join in on the conversation. Not only did he not acknowledge my existence the first, second, or third time I had been in the same room with him, Bobby has still yet to say hello to me. And as you could presume, as soon as I would leave the event, there it was - a notification on my phone from Bobby, snapchatting me to tell me how much fun he had that night. Our conversation started 2 minutes after we had parted from each other - ironic huh?
After our first “meeting”, I confronted Bobby, asking him if he either a.) did not see me (which I know he did) or b.) why he didn’t come to say hello. Of course, he responded that he hadn’t seen me and that he had to leave quickly so he never got a chance to say hello - also not true. This apologetic conversation had repeated multiple times before I finally gave up and began to ignore him just as he had done to me at the rink.
Aside from sparse snapchats, Bobby and I no longer talk, maybe ‘talk’ isn’t the best word because we never got to that point, but we no longer converse. Moving on from Bobby, I realized that all of my future relationships were so successful because of the initial encounter, in person, face-to-face, hearing their voice.
Bobby has taught me the important lesson of taking a step back from our mobile devices and focusing on meeting people the old-fashioned way. Creating an “easier” method of communicating inhibits the ability to form a meaningful, lasting relationship. As someone who was born in the age of the iPhone, you’d probably be surprised to hear a teenager like me advising to put down the phone. But in all seriousness, while the use of dating apps, social media, and texting is great in connecting with people, it’s ruining the ability to form successful relationships. As statistics for divorce rises, we can certainly put partial blame on the growing presence of technology in our lives and relationships.
Who’s to blame them, though? Phones are safe and produce a rounded-off, polished version of your realistic, edgy self. Replacing a conversation with a phone allows couples to revise and edit and think about what they say, rather than blurting out an impulsive statement that they immediately regret. In addition to that, fingers have a much easier time saying life changing phrases such as “I love you,” rather than it stuttering out of the mouth. But the stuttering, and the clammy hands, and then misspoken words are the things that make a true, authentic relationship, one where the two can accept each other's faults because they see that they exist. Let’s learn from our grandparents and go out for milkshakes and fries.