Love in the Times of Social Media

Love and Sex

Love in the Times of Social Media

Illustration: Mandar Mhaskar/ Arré

Ten years back, love was different.

If a bro wanted to ask a girl out, all he needed to do was gather some rarely used courage, spend some crucial minutes in front of the mirror inflating his battered self-esteem, and fervently hope that the stress of it all didn’t make him faint. Once she said yes, it was official; our top dog would finally break up with his right hand.

But it’s 2018 now. We have in front of us a technologically advanced yet emotionally handicapped bro who knows the entire timeline of Drake and Rihanna’s relationship, but not the way to a woman’s heart. There is a world of social-media etiquettes he must pledge allegiance to, before taking the plunge with the girl he kinda sorta likes. #nocommitments.

He must first educate himself on emojis because that’s going to comprise 60 per cent of the communication with bae. Once finished, he must update his relationship status on Facebook to show her that he really cares. There’s also a picture to be uploaded on Instagram accompanied by a caption, which has more heart emojis than words. Last but not the least, he must not forget to hold her real close and pose for a snap.

Now that his love life has been registered on the internet, he thinks he’s good to go. The object of his affection finally believes he’s in this for the long haul – that this is real. Sweet, right? For most parts, it is. Except, there’s a catch. What our bro didn’t realise was that he just unwittingly granted access to a third entity in his relationship.

It’s now him, her, and social media.

It is this very entity that is given the power to decide if the couple is into each other. It gets the first update about every special moment in their relationship – whether they’re out partying, in bed watching reruns of House of Cards, lamenting about the Donald Trump presidency, celebrating their anniversary, or waging a cold war with each other.

The world is now as much a participant in this relationship, as the couple is. What the world thinks of them shapes up the discourse for what they think about each other.

This almost-evil entity listens, reminds, causes worry, and at times, reluctantly validates. It is the force behind variants of texts like, “Why didn’t you like my post on Facebook?” and “You never put up any pictures with me. It’s like I never exist!”

The scheme his girlfriend is sold on is simple – the intermingling of their virtual and real lives. This is roughly when shit hits the fan, because they couldn’t be any more off beam. As always, the bro has skipped reading the terms and conditions.

It’s not enough if he tells her how much he likes her and what she means to him. Words, at this point, have been robbed off their significance just like the ₹500 and ₹1000 notes. Our bro must get with the times. He must cruise with the new currency of likes and comments, and take to his social media accounts to show how deep his love is by routinely dropping their pictures and posts. Feelings are not validated unless presented in real time while everyone’s watching.

Every dinner date now starts and ends with them Instagramming it. They don’t waste any time in reminding their Facebook timelines that it’s their anniversary­. They’re physically lying next to each other, but mentally reside miles away in the online personas they’ve built together. Social media is the parameter they are using to gauge the health of their relationship.

The world is now as much a participant in this relationship, as the couple is. What the world thinks of them shapes the discourse about what they think about each other. Now, no amount of whispering sweet nothings can provide reassurance to either one of them; nothing can match the adrenaline rush that notification pings bring forth.

Look at what happened to Bollywood’s once-lit couple Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. Rumour is that the power couple had briefly called it quits after Ranveer kept feeling that his lady-love didn’t shower the same enthusiasm on him on social media as he did on her.

Not in life, not in bed. But on social media.

What gave legitimacy to the break-up rumours was not a quote by the actors, but the fact that Ranveer did not share the trailer of Deepika’s XXX: The Return of Xander Cage on Twitter and she had returned the favour by not tweeting the trailer of his movie Befikre.

So, yep, it’s true.

What Deepika’s suspiciously sizzling chemistry with ex-flame and man-child Ranbir Kapoor in Tamasha couldn’t break, was brought to a deafening end allegedly due to the lack of some likes and retweets.

So here we are now. With online timelines designed to exactly mirror the feelings, thoughts, and happenings of our daily lives, we’ve allowed a few social media sites to chart the course of a relationship.

Bro, of course is still bewildered. He woke up this morning to five missed calls and numerous texts from bae. The texts comprised annoyed emojis, generous use of the words “fine” and “whatever” and were accompanied by a “feeling angry” update on her Facebook. He realises there’s going to be a fight or perhaps talks of a break up. But, the bitch of it is that his social media network probably knew it before him.

This story was earlier published on Nov 30, 2016.