Farewells in a wired world

We lie about goodbyes

A wise friend told me that we must lie to each other about departures or else we'd never be able to part ways. We needed to make promises about writing letters and keeping each other updated on our daily events and achievements, and say silly things like, "Keep in touch."

But the reality is that far away from each other, our worlds are vastly different, and pretty soon it becomes difficult to describe one's new surroundings to someone who only has the old shared world as a basis of comparison. It's not meant to belittle a place that one departed, but merely highlights one's adjustment to another, and this is something he must face alone.

Yet with the presence of online communication, the one who went away isn't entirely disconnected. He attempts to show photos and describe his new environment. The ones left behind struggle to understand, but after the laptops are closed and the devices are turned off, there's still the distance. Our worlds are still too far apart.

So close but so far away

A friend in a long-distance relationship recently spent the night at our place. She slept beside a laptop which had her sleeping girlfriend on video chat through the night. It was the new way that LDR couples cohabited in the virtual world and shared their waking and sleeping moments "beside" each other. 

I asked my friend if it was easier now to be in a relationship with someone who was far away since communication technology was all within reach. Before she could answer, I qualified my question by asking, "Or is it harder because you can do virtually everything together but you can't touch?"

My friend leaned towards the latter. It used to be that far apart we were out of sight, and there was a little delay and a lot of filtering between what we shared and what we kept to ourselves. In real-time communication, it's pretty difficult to hide, so we pretend that we are not really apart. This works until the wrong word is dropped or a temper flares, and it's impossible to backpedal and comfort each other with a much-needed hug.

It's then that you feel the farewell you didn't utter when you last parted ways. There's a reason they call it "in real life," I suppose. Beyond screens and calls, there is no touch, no company beside you as you explore your surroundings.

The world at the other end of the chat becomes almost fictional and separate, producing longing but also frustration, often forcing both sides to disconnect and deal with the world their loved ones do not inhabit, even if their images and voices are present in each other's lives. – Rappler.com