As we progress towards new technology, newer, hipper modes of communication are becoming increasingly impersonal. Face-to-face interaction would be ideal when you're trying to get to know someone; however, busy schedules or even physical distance become viable, prime barriers for a lack of personal interaction. When minimal face-to-face interaction occurs, what happens? My friend Amanda has suggested that "absence makes the heart grow fonder/yonder." But which is it? I've felt fonder and yonder with different men on various occasions before, but what tips the scale over from yonder to fonder or vice versa? Does someone feel fonder of someone else because that person is not readily available? Is it the idea of a chase that creates this (illusion of) fondness?
Before texting and the Internet, people resorted to telegrams, letters, and the telephone. If you look at mail correspondence, this is still considered as impersonal communication because there is a barrier preventing you from having direct, personal correspondence. A letter would have to go through a middle man, the post office, before arriving at its final destination. Certainty for a single girl, this whole waiting for a letter to endure a long physical journey to get to you is completely romantic and sentimental. The idea of a letter from a guy you adore makes you smile because as sappy as this may sound, he once held the letter you are holding, and plus he handwrote, or more like scrawled, the letter you are reading. You can't help but feel special - because this letter is for you and no one else.
Klara (Margaret Sullavan) reading a letter in The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
If a single girl regularly receives some kind of correspondence, such as letters, from her object of affection and suddenly that correspondence ceases, she can feel unwanted, abandoned, unnerved, or worse - inadequate. (Ladies, we don't need validation from men to be/feel amazing.)
Inbox empty. Better luck another day, Klara. Poor lady... don't cry, Shopgirl.
No one likes this kind of needy behavior of waiting for that other person to respond back, but many of us are guilty of waiting for an e-mail back or even a telephone call back (myself included) because our singleton heart craves attention and affection. It's nice to be wanted and/or needed. I'm a little old fashioned but men who are able to write beautiful letters, or at least attempt to handwrite a personal letter to their object of affection, are a dying breed. I wish this wasn't the case, but it is. Nowadays, men can steathily or awkwardly dodge unwanted females by plainly ignoring those girls' e-mails, ims, and texts with the reasoning that one isn't obligated to reply back immediately or ever to electronic/digital messages.
When it comes to the telephone, especially before cell phones came along, one often pictures a single girl waiting at home next to the telephone. It is such a depressing image. Imagine the time wasted on waiting for a jerk who said he'll call but he won't. Why do we have such a passive image of single females waiting? There is a double standard that women aren't supposed to make the first move when it comes to dating men. Honestly, I initiate things anyways. I know it comes off as "unlady-like" but you know what - sometimes men don't have the nerve to make the first move. Women should give men a little push, and if that little push doesn't work, you move along to another guy. It's all trial and error. I refuse to wait for one guy too long; I'm not getting any younger, and it's not like that guy is going to grow another pair of balls anytime soon (plus, that would be really disgusting).
The good thing about talking on the phone is that even though you can't see the person you're talking, you can hear the tone of that person's voice and so there's a smaller chance of misinterpreting what that person is saying. Flirting via the telephone is always fun. It's a great way to be coy and indulge your object of affection and yourself with some witty repartee (which I love). I'm sure phone sex occurred way before that term was actually coined as well.
split screen telephoning between Doris Day and Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk (1959)
some telephone action in Pillow Talk remake Down With Love (2003)
I really doubt that any guy would do push-ups with a phone on his shoulders, but whatev - it's the movies.
Then along came the Internet - with instantaneous e-mails and instant messages. Instead of face-to-face interaction, it's you and the screen with text sent over not so long ago. Since it's an impersonal form of communication, many people feel like they can get away with typing certain things over the Internet that they normally wouldn't be able to have the nerve to say in person. No one likes confrontation and so the Internet removes that fear behind possibly saying something confrontational or inappropriate. Guys can easily flirt with single gals with a keyboard and a mouse, without witnessing those girls' possible looks of disgust. Getting rejected online reminds me of what George said in You've Got Mail (1998): "Well, as far as I'm concerned, the Internet is just another way of being rejected by women."
Inappropriate e-mail messages from Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones's Diary (2001):
Although communicating over the Internet is impersonal, there is that advantage of being able to freely react to messages uncensored in the privacy of your own personal space.
As far as instantaneous communication goes, sometimes technology encourages people to become rude, insensitive human beings, by doing something as brutal and impersonal as breaking up with someone over a text:
from Up in the Air (2009)
Notice that the date sent was two days before Valentine's Day.
I realize that I kept on harping on the impersonal side of technology, but technology is a double-edged sword: the great thing about it is that you can receive instantaneous messages from anyone all over the world; however, there's that person-to-person interaction that is completely priceless that you can't experience by receiving e-mails, ims, and texts.
I'll leave you with the following quote:
"The odd thing about this form of communication is that you’re more likely to talk about nothing than something. But I just want to say that all this nothing has meant more to me than so many somethings." - Kathleen Kelly, You’ve Got Mail (1998)
It was a quote I kept on thinking about maybe a year ago. It's something I will never say to this one person I know, but that person kind of brought me back to life with a whole lot of nothings online when I was going through a very dark time. It was an unintentional doing on that person's part, but I am still grateful for all those nothings that meant something to me.