Lille — France, 2013

The Difficult Relationships In The Postmedia Age

Again, it is late evening and everyone’s asleep; just as usual, you stay up glued to the computer screen, smoking another cigarette, mindlessly clicking through Facebook. You’re stalking your ex-girlfriend, right? Of course, you do.

Finally, when you decide to go to bed, you’re feeling guilty because of wasted time… and a bit of moral hangover — you’ve broke up with that girl half a year ago (by writing her a private message on Facebook — what a coincidence!), so why the hell are you spending hours on browsing her holiday photos or her girl-party relations?

Everything above sounds familiar probably for the majority of the generation of digital naturals, commonly known also as millennials.

Ex-partners stalking (or, more and more often — totally unknown people) is growing phenomenon across the social media users. Facebook gives still the highest number of possibilities of accessing and gathering personal data of its users. Twitter — just a bit less, but if you run out of data, you can also browse LinkedIn or other networks designed for social cooperation; they are great tools for feeding and growing your emotional frustrations as far as it looks like you — the common social media user — seem to be more and more lost in the digital world (and most probably you forgot how to build relationships in the “analogue” reality).

Nothing strange, because it’s really hard to start and build relationships in the world that constantly rushes, I can agree with that easily, but I can’t legitimise this. Contemporary, common Internet user puts less effort into the communication with other people. We got used to treat each other as numbers or just the lines of the binary code; we’re demanding, not able to ask nor thank for anything. Our empathy is limited in many cases just to pushing the “Like” button on charity-promoting Facebook page…

… And if we speak about the relationships, the situation doesn’t look better; the Internet has opened for lonely people amazing possibility of entering the huge market of potential partners, both for men and women. Your dreamed companion could be defined by searching criteria of dating service; beginning with eye colour, hair length, civil status and interests, ending with political views or religion. Writing a message doesn’t cost you much, just as going together for a coffee — you can always disappear, change your identity, never write back again…

On the other hand, Internet gave millions of people the possibility of being together despite of the distance, which I always defined as the measure of our helplessness. With little help of mobile devices and apps (like i.e., Vine or Instagram), you can send your love not only a picture, but also the sound and movement which surrounds you. You can share your music, you can — even if from the distance, but still together — share the same emotions. And write emails about them — now claimed as the cheapest and the most common way of digital communication.

The world has no borders today. I’ve realised it in 2002 year, when I’ve been keeping a long-term email correspondence with a student from China. I’ve been translating for him (into English) my favourite Polish poems of Baczyński. Now I understand the power of the Internet even more, because everyday I try to transfer loads of positive energy and emotions to people I love (but because of many reasons, we cannot live together). I’ve discovered that the Internet doesn’t have to make us emotionally illiterate.

Average European Internet user communicates with just the 700 words. Maybe it is worth to exceed this trend, to express something more than 140 characters of grumpy, trolling commentary to our reality and to bring a little bit more of real emotions to the digital reality…?

I wish it could be something more than — nomen omen — my wishful thinking.

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