By Larry Wu
I have to thank social media for modernizing love in this new and constantly changing tech age. Like so many relationships today, ours started on Facebook where we exchanged half-hearted interests through wall posts, showing signs of attraction without fully committing. C and I knew of each other through mutual friends from school through the newspaper club that were involved in. They would tease us about our little notes thinking we would get together. But, at the moment, it wasn’t ideal timing. It was the beginning of spring, and I had recently gotten dumped by my former girlfriend, and C had gotten into a relationship with a close friend of mine. However, C and I talked occasionally, masking our hidden newfound interest in each other the more we got to know each other via Facebook chat (Thank you again, Zuckerberg). That’s when I found out she had her own personal blog on Tumblr, mainly filled with reblogged posts of #foodporn, #cats and #hipster. But, in between the infinite scrolling of filtered pictures and food that was meant to be modeled rather than eaten, she wrote snippets about her personal life and short fictional stories that kept me coming back — even if that meant scrolling through an endless amount of strawberry shortcakes and the most aesthetically pleasing, geometric tattoos that could exist on the Internet.
The school year ended, summer began and by then I had my own blog. Most of the posts served as a personal journal for me where I also experimented with (very) amateur poetry and fiction writing. Of course, C was my first follower and she, too, had started another blog dedicated exclusively to writing. Writing personal posts and recounts of my days were strange to me because I never wrote them down in journals (I never had owned one prior to that), but for some reason I felt comfortable sharing well over half of my private thoughts with the Internet. But then again, only C was reading what I wrote, and I was comfortable with that. However, whenever we encountered each other at a friend’s house or in school, there was always a polite reserve that we both gave off, as if we were good friends online and acquaintances offline. It was as if we had no hesitation to confide our problems and secrets to the entire Internet when we couldn’t even mutter a word to each other in real life.
By fall, she had broken up peacefully with my friend and I was well-recovered after three months of summer vacation and enough vitamin D intake to make sessions at tanning beds look like an afternoon nap. It was obvious that we liked each other, especially when we were the only ones that reblogged each other’s writings. After an untold number of posts of prose and poetry that were hidden with underlying affectionate meanings, we finally got together. And I was happier than ever being with her. We spent lazy days lounging around, sharing pieces of writing, listening to classical music — all the hobbies that kept us floating in a peaceful Amaro filter.
C and I had our ups and downs like serious couples are required to, but we never fully resolved those downs. Most of the time the frustrations we had with each other translated into insecure and angry late-night posts. It was almost implicit that we only tried to fix fights with text posts that had implied meanings. We existed in real life, but our relationship was only evident online.
To me, it started to be less and less of a relationship and more of a comfortable hug that I knew I could always turn to whenever I felt lonely or idle. Replies to text messages became obligatory, visits to her blog lessened and my excuses of “being busy” grew exponentially.
Our relationship suffered, even though she made the effort to keep it balanced as I went forging ahead with my life. I started to write less, beginning to disregard my blog as I spent my time with other people offline, away from social media. This went on for several months, and I started having interests in other people. It would only be my fault alone when I ended up cheating on her.
She eventually found out, but by that time we had already broken up, thinking to myself that I had made a clean getaway free from any rebuttal. A few weeks passed, I hadn’t seen her since I moved on to college and I was fine as I could be. There were new people to meet, things to see and work to do. I was busy and I thought nothing more of C.
Then, a month passed. I started to visit C’s writing blog again, curious about how she was doing. And when I scrolled through her posts, the familiar Cambria font size 10 typeface, I could see how quickly she had made me a thing of the past with only a handful of posts angrily dedicated to me, and the rest moving away from that. Since C has moved on, I figured I, too, should do the same, but broken off relationships today are much harder to forget. Her Facebook updates still streamed through my newsfeed with old photos of us in group pictures re-appearing by friends’ likes. Old google Hangout invitations still lying in my inbox. Old music playlists that were shared over Spotify. Old calendar reminders on my phone telling me the things we had yet to do.
A month passed and I was fine; I even started writing again. Then, two months passed, and I could feel this gut-wrenching pain inside of me that I had just come to realize was there, that had kept me locked up in my dorm room, scribbling in my Moleskine, filling page after page. I noticed the battery life on my iPhone had improved, mainly because my phone ceased to vibrate sporadically anymore. Winter had come and I knew that what I was feeling during the dark, harsh, lonely months of the city was one terrible thing – regret.
As winter’s biting tunnel winds continued, I promised myself that I would delete C from my life in order to get over her. I hid her away from my Facebook, I unfollowed her blogs on Tumblr and I trashed any remnants of us ever having existed. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I still had multiple urges throughout the day to visit her blog, to indulge myself in her writing that I had read so religiously for over a year. I was living each day like an iPhone on its last dying one percent – clinging onto whatever I had left of her.
It wasn’t until the last snowstorm of the season, when I was sitting at my desk going through the fifth page of my journal, that I realized why C didn’t just disappear with a click of my mouse. It was because of her that I started to write, and it was because of her that I continued to write. C showed me something that I grew to love and that we had done together. But now I was alone, and for the first time I realized she wouldn’t be reading what I had written.
Some time had passed now and when I look back I realized that I was still, very much, a kid. I wasn’t mature enough to handle a real relationship, to stay committed to one person or be able to appreciate how much someone cared about me. Maybe it was hard to understand each other because social media (and most of us still are) was playing a role in our relationship now, and that maybe we never said the things that should have been said in person instead of in a text. The Internet had caused me to hole up in this one blog where I stored all my emotional energy, leaving me with nothing to say in person when people would ask me how I felt.
For the first time, I had to tell people how I felt with my mouth and not with my fingers tapping away at the keyboard. It was awkward and nerve-wracking at first, being afraid of how people would respond, but eventually I grew to be more open. Today, I still write on the blog, but I prefer pen and journal.
If it weren’t for the social media titans of today, I probably wouldn’t have met C. But, I’m glad I did meet her and that we had our chance. She’s changed me for the better in ways that I didn’t even realize until after our time had passed. I experienced, I reflected and I grew, all of which I hope has made me a little more mature and that will steer me away from future regrets.
But, I still don’t intend on looking for any relationships over the Internet any time soon.