Where’s the digital romance? Ronnie Apteker goes in search of love…

Technology has laid her marker on everyone’s way of life, so much so that organisations like the World Economic Forum have put hours on hours into what’s called the Fourth Industrial revolution – searching for the pros and cons of this disruptive force, as well as solutions. And sticking to this theme but taking a different tack, Ronnie Apteker looks at the technological downside to romance. And in this quest for love, he seeks a few solutions that may allow the combined force of love and technology to live in harmony. – Stuart Lowman

by Ronnie Apteker*

Ronnie Apteker
Ronnie Apteker

I was busy downloading a virtual love letter cum greeting card from something called Blue Mountain when my phone rang. I was so excited to hear it was a dear friend of mine calling from America. “I can’t speak to you right now,” she said. “But you just called me.” I responded. Has all this technology made us stupid? I believe it has. It has also made us unromantic and expedient. Imagine a woman telling you she is crazy about you via some online virtual post-card. I mean, that must have taken a full 30 seconds of effort to send. Come on, where is the romance in the digital age?

You can’t hurry love

Isn’t love a verb? If it were really a noun then it would be implied that one could buy love, and we know this is not the case. Love requires action. And actions require time. Sending someone an SMS message to wish them happy birthday lacks imagination. Virtual flowers. Keep ‘em. E-mail love letters. Forget it. And my all-time favourite, the cellphone call from the car. Don’t bother. All of these are about convenience and love has never been about this. Where is the romance in this? Romance is about a journey, not a destination. Sipping a glass of wine as you glide a fountain pen on a piece of delicate writing paper is what makes the dance so worthwhile. Feeling the words, and thinking of how to put them together is what makes sending a letter so tender and loving. Spending quality time is what love is about.

All this digital technology has its place, but don’t fall into the trap of trivializing the most fundamental of human needs. Our souls need to express themselves. And sending someone you love a text to share something precious with them is simply unromantic and boring. Efficient, yes, effective, no. Romance, love and passion are things that aren’t meant to be rushed. True love is never-ending, so why the hurry?

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Passion

I remember some lines from one of my favourite movies where the main character, a schoolteacher, asks his class why we read and write poetry. And he said, “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion.” Yes, it is cute to get a text message now and then, and yes, e-mail can be fun, and yes, cellphones can be wonderfully distracting, but they are not mediums of substance. Our teacher goes on saying, “Medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, art, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for.”

What do you stay alive for? I can’t believe it is so that you can catch up on your e-mails and return all those missed calls. The most beautiful moments of my life are when my time has been filled with feelings of love and passion. Romance is what inspires me. Beauty is what excites me. And by beauty I am referring to more than just aesthetics. I love the beauty in an imaginative plan, a provocative letter, a naughty card, or a late night phone-call that lasts an hour. Life can truly feel beautiful when real time is given to you by someone you love. And real time is all to confused with real-time in this age of high-tech and low-patience.

Romance

Valentine's Day

Technology is not only being used as a poor vehicle for romance but it is also interrupting those who do in fact stick to the fundamentals. The next time someone takes you for a romantic dinner, switch your cellphone off, or better still, leave it behind. I often wonder if people in bed would take a cellphone call. Where do we draw the line? Yes, I am sure during love making they would not answer a ringing phone, but what about a few minutes afterwards, when our two lovers are lying there together, snuggling, and listening to each other’s heartbeat. Do you answer your phone then? Is there no time for feeling? Is there no time for reflection? Is there simply no time, period?

Summing up

Perhaps the problem is not one of a lack of romance in the world. Perhaps the problem is more about discipline. Learn to switch those phones off. Learn when not to send that e-mail and instead wait to see him or her in the flesh. Love is about learning. And learning is what makes life so inspiring. So, try and learn to stop being controlled by all these time saving technologies. Because, time is what you will soon run out of when you realize that life has passed you by and you did not have a chance to truly express yourself.

Love is about expression. And this means using your imagination. We all have an imagination. Let’s use our imaginations more and make the world more decadent and romantic. We really need to in these mediocre times.

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the three founders of Internet Solutions. You can follow him @RonnieApteker.
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