Digital Love Letters

4 years ago

When I was 14 and began dating my first boyfriend, AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) was all the rage.  My screen name was a clever play on "Jerseygirl".  In my defense, I had created the name a year earlier, which partially explains my temporary lapse in judgment.

Like many people from my generation, AIM is where I learned how to flirt.  It was where I realized that a smiley face could mean something more than simply the curvature of my mouth.  More importantly, it’s where I discovered the difference between luv and love, the latter being more serious.  We spoke in code, and like all codes, it was sacred.  Like many lovesick girls before me, I’d read and reread our chats and assured myself that it would last.  It didn’t. Now it seems that the only people who have AIM are people like my father, those over 60, or those who are too lazy to change.


Image: Rosie Alyea via Flickr


After AIM, there was Myspace.  I remember fighting with my ex over the people he included in his "Top 8"and the flirty messages girls would leave on his wall.   Who’s Veronica?  I'd ask those kinds of questions, but then that too would soon come to an end.

Then Facebook took over and things got really messy.  Were we in a relationship? Personally, saying “it’s complicated” has always been a given when it comes to relationships.  God, how I hated changing my status and all the subsequent “What happened?” comments that came with it.  Do you really think my wall is an appropriate place to ask?  We sent messages, video messages, chatted, tagged Facebook posts, and posted pictures.  Tag, untag.  Entire relationships were documented for the world to see and with every update or format change, I found myself slowly losing them all and realizing how much I had already lost.

Then came along Gmail, yet another way to record our love.  Hundreds and hundreds of e-mails and g- chats, all of them starred, labeled and archived.  This time, I’d be better at conserving the artifacts.  Whenever I’d miss him, I’d reread our chats and remember to trust our love, though secretly knowing, this too shall pass.

I was right; eventually I met Skype.  Considering the distance and difference in time, it was a great way to start an otherwise impossible relationship with my French lover. We broke up 3 months later.  C'est la vie.

These days it’s all about Whatsapp. It’s the latest chatting trend here in Spain and I’m told, in many other countries.  For those of you not acquainted, imagine BBM (Blackberry Messenger) or iChat (for Apple iPhones), but for any type of phone and with group chatting capabilities.  I use it every day to talk to my boyfriend and friends.  If you don’t have it here, you basically don’t exist. In fact, its idiosyncrasies are so embedded in young Spanish culture that they made a movie about it. However, just like any other form of technology, it’s not without its quirks.  For one, it’s memory is limited, meaning whatever sweet thing my boyfriend said to me 5 months ago, is probably gone, lost forever.  (Insert sad face emoji)

Every relationship I’ve had, has been marked by technology.  Sadly, much like my past relationships, technology has only proven to fade over time. While the digital footprint of our love will supposedly remain forever, overtime my access to that love will most likely be blocked by two words: irretrievable password.  Here today, forgotten tomorrow . Though I understand the necessity of moving on with regard to technology and matters of the heart, part of me can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness, picturing all of those love messages aimlessly floating in the Internet’s vast sea of nothingness, like love letters in an unbreakable bottle.

How have your relationships been affected by technology? Tweet me.

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