“The unspeakable visions of the individual “
It was a Once Upon a Time moment. A man and a woman sat at a table in a garden café and spoke to each other. He noticed how her eyes sparkled when she spoke. She noticed the gentle tilt of his head when she made a point that he found unpredictably unconventional. They both enjoyed their conversation in, what seemed to be, a deferred moment in time as people blurred by in a disconnected frenzy of white noise. The only interruption was to come when the waiter crossed the threshold of their intimate sanctuary to enquire after their culinary needs—their general comfort. The time was spent with no other motivation but to be within each other’s company without distraction. That time was good.
Paradise was lost the day they became connected to all their friends and relations through the use of a mobile phone, social network and instant mail. Time after time, there was the debilitating sound of a small buzz that came from his coat pocket. He would pull the device out and check it. A friend needed help later. Would he come? A brother had liked someone’s photograph. An old lover lamented that she wished she was in Disneyland. And his mother was tired of picking up dirty socks. Her phone was on silent. But his constant notifications encouraged her to check her phone. She would read the screen. Her forehead creased. She was in a state of confusion one minute. She was mildly amused the next. Another time she looked absolutely vexed.
Neither mentioned what was happening in their respective worlds. They kept these messages private–For their eyes only. They thought about the goings-on of their other friends and family and the conversation between them became unfocussed and fraught. The world felt all too and they were far too preoccupied to speak to each other. Rather, they sat drinking their cups of tea, discussing the latest application and skirted around the issue that they knew all the news of each other because of what they read about the other from other friends on the their mutual friends-list.
One day, she was too distracted by his frequent checking of the social network. She wondered why he even bothered coming to see her that day as he was much engaged by what was being posted by his other friends. He became annoyed because as preoccupied as she seemed to be by the text messages she read, her answer to his question, “is everything ok?” was always, “it’s nothing.”
Suddenly, there were too many people at the table for two. In the effort to be “connected”, they found they had stopped being so connected to each other.
But they have not “unfriended” each other on the social network.