Men and women no longer write each other love letters but Facebook (FB) and Twitter messages/chats—mankind’s gift to modern-day chivalry. Instead of actually writing ‘kisses’; ‘I love you’ or better yet, showing it; through emoticons, you can now send a man your red lips, and he can sweep you off your feet just by sending you that big swollen red love heart. Maybe that way, we are less likely to be held accountable for anything, especially words unuttered. Birthday cakes and cards now come cheaper, and in various flavours and assorted colours—via Facebook apps. If she cries foul over missing to eat cake on her birthday, the same man who should have at least got her a cup cake, simply goes, “At least I sent you one over Facebook.”
Kindly DM and check FB inbox have become our new lingo—that which we can’t live or do without. Dating hasn’t only taken to the cyberspace in instances where it started on an online platform but even in real life dates. Haven’t you seen a perfectly matching couple out at a restaurant or a club, both cuddling, on their smartphones—the kind that send Facebook updates like, “OMG!? Having the time of my life at this date, he’s such a gentleman!” While on the other hand, Mr. Gentleman is simultaneously updating his Twitter status to, “Someone call #MAWE, my date is the reason why Karen Horses Association are no longer selling horse hair.” Look closer at yourself. Just how many times have you had to either release your ululations or frustrations online while you had the chance to do it out in the open (real life situation)? After all, wasn’t the message always better delivered first hand? Why is it suddenly easier to confess to thousands of followers and FB ‘friends’ that you are in love or annoyed by someone, but you won’t face them and be man or woman enough to say this to their face?
Were relationships more meaningful before FB and Twitter? People must have met (physically) more often to see the actual faces of people they were interested in while gauging them from the first date. But today, it’s almost a 50 percent chance that relationships blossom upon love at first tweet/FB update, even before the first-meet up. And an 80 percent chance, that a man or lady who hasn’t met their date prior via social media, will ask them for their FB or Twitter handle at the first date. This isn’t really to make friends or contact, but to read into someone’s life, if there is such a thing to start with. We want to know; what kind of music do they hear if any? What kind of places do they check into using Foursquare? What kind of pictures do they have up and how often do they post updates, heck! Do they write grammatically correct? While we could spend time with these people to learn these things, this has instead become the only chance for us to judge friends and lovers.
Are we becoming too obsessed with ourselves, and our image? With Instagram; selfies are the new cup of tea. It’s highly likely that, a suitor will first ask you to send them an image of yourself via WhatsApp even before wishing you a good morning, they actually never do but only write, ‘So, what’s up today?’. Why are we so quick to cut to the chase? We take images of ourselves, edit/filter to send out in record time. Is it just so we can have 45 Likes on an image, with others lauding us— “You look great!”, only to reply with an emoticon smiley? Are we spending too much time recording and reporting on our daily experiences, that we forget to live life, one moment in time.
A few years back, it was really shaddy not to be on FB and even shadier not to send out at least 10 updates daily. Most recently, it’s become shaddy not to be on Twitter and Instagram; and even shadier not to have at least 500 followers (on each) going up. While at a dinner with some friends recently, one guy recounted to us how he’d met a local media personality who, “had more than 50,000 Twitter followers and is such a beauty.” It seemed to matter most to him, that she had so many followers. Have we become a society that equates friendship, love and satisfaction to our social pages and the comments/numbers they attract; while the content we constantly strive to update is all erasable at one button? There is the lurking danger of accounts being hacked, crashing or the possibility of simply shutting down your account. If that happens, what relationships will you have left to savour?
When chivalry died, it seemed to have jumped into the blogosphere, where personalities bigger than individuals reign. Girls giggle about guys they have never met, “Just check out his Tweets, he’s hilarious!” not knowing, if maybe, this guy is just another dork plagiarizing already recycled tweets. Guys no longer talk about nice girls from or at church, if they aren’t tweeting about how one of the singers from the choir can gerrrit. They are now interested in hot avatars and profile pictures. After the hustle of pimping and editing our images to seem near-perfect; the reality is that none of us is perfect or ever will be. At some point, somebody needs to stop, at least even for a day and ask themselves, ‘How long do I spend with so and so offline? And while offline, how long do we actually spend time alone without the TV on and phone to tweet about how nice a time we are having’?
I don’t know about you but I am starting to get tired of just following that guy I like on Twitter. I want to follow him down the streets of Nairobi and into his favorite restaurant/cafe. While there, I don’t want to like his Instagram and twipics of foods he relishes or decor he admires but share with him. Heck I don’t want to only be sharing interesting reads with him via FB but also sacred moments like this. As much as I enjoy hanging out with him, for once, I want to hoard our sweet memories just for our keeps and not share updates like “At such & such a place with so & so, we’re now having desert, the dinner was nearly as splendid as my man” but actually tell it to his face.
I am tired of being friends with thousands of people on FB while in the real sense I only happen to own a couple of friends, who btw don’t FB much, at least not in regard to our friendship. I am suddenly tired of being just FB friends with that guy I fancy. Could he possibly poke me offline? Will he still like the unfiltered picture of me (you know the one with at least two bad hair days or a pimple big enough for a hobbit to take a hike on, every month)? We all fuss over social media and the facade it creates but at the end of the day, we are real. We shouldn’t forget that real conversations happen face to face (not just Apple’s Face Time), off cyberspace. I am curious if we could be offline without our FB, Twitter and Instagram aliases, for at least 48 hours. Wait. Could you ever dare hit delete? Food for thought.
BONUS: Now back to normalcy, kindly follow me via @anyikowoko