Half-gazing at the screen, modestly hoping that one more piece of text will pop up and prolong our exchange a moment longer, I slip into a slow melancholy. I think about the impoverished digital modes by which I communicate with people–my love for whom I struggle to even understand–and stare longingly into a two by three inch chat box in the lower right portion of my screen. I hope for acknowledgments of our relationship, and yet I am unable to acknowledge my relationship to them. I easily conflate this box and the symbols it contains with the person I know; the person I have held and loved and wanted, and wonder whether the affect differs between the two.
The feeling that I have come to rely on is real and I cannot dispute that I experience at least the sensation of an emotional connection, but there is a loss inherent in this semi-hollowed simulation of my other. I know that their real self is alive somewhere and that they are as physically whole as I imagine them to be, but having known the satisfaction of the real thing, our digital interactions always leave me lost. Being able to interact, in whatever partially disconnected way, with someone on the other side of the country–the world even–is truly a luxury and I am certainly not threatening to give up my Gchat. But I wonder, could my dependence on impersonal forms of communication, whether out of physical or emotional necessity, be a detriment to my relationships–to my emotional health? I fear that no new emotion is generated, that the sentiment I experience in our dialogues is a mere replay of previous experiences and feelings. Am I really experiencing closeness and care or am I kidding myself into thinking that my words can translate with any emotional accuracy? The thing that really scares me is that I know both are true at different times and I am finding it increasingly difficult to tell the two apart.
So, sitting alone, slouched in the dim light of my laptop, I mentally scramble to amplify and project the brief taste of nostalgia I have been treated to. I try to recall what I once knew physically but cannot overcome the slow sedative of my memory. The sensation blurs and fades and I am left with the numbness that follows any repetitive impotence.