We see it all the time, we see it happen way too often. Chocolate bars dissolve into groundnuts, ice cream melts into coloured water, spring green withers to autumn deadness, and Instagram tags (de)evolve into shades on Facebook feeds. It should be easy hooking up and finding love these days, really, with the ridiculous ease of emotions to seep through keypads and promises of commitments to be sealed by the pairing of smileys and emojis, but you just feel that the layers of the depth that (our idea of) Love is characterised with, is in danger of gradually peeling off. The wheels move too fast these days, hellos blend too rapidly into goodbyes (and then a new set of hellos) now.

These days I start conversations and abandon them midway. It’s all déjà vu, I always know where the messages are going, and I can’t be going all Groundhog Day on these interactions. It’s tiring, really, processing these texts. It usually plays out in a nauseatingly familiar sequence: chat, exchange witty lines, warm up to one another, reveal your favourite colours and names of siblings, learn each other, admit to the “I think I like you”s, trade photos, request for visuals devoid of fabric, plan to meet, see plans fall through or gasp in mild disappointment when sparks fail to fly on the actual rendezvous, sink into monotony, speak less, stop speaking, cut each other off, repeat…don’t we get tired of the circle?

Then there’s the part where people bedazzle you with (ultimately paper-thin) affectation just because they are curious about (the person they think) you (are). You see through all of it more than half the time, but you enjoy the attention, so you flow with it. You are afraid to ask:

“Hey, are you here because you are really drawn to me, or simply because the idea of dozing off beside me makes (movie-like) sense?”

You think you can handle the undefined, non-commital, nondescript state of things, but you find out that you can’t, and you wind up being drained, again.

These days young people just want to satisfy their urges without having a full grasp of the intricacies. I think we try too hard to manufacture our own ‘chick flick’ experiences. It’s ok to be intense, to not know how to get around being ‘casual’. Don’t force it, you will burn. As you play the numbers game with the calendar and your hardening face reflects the clock’s movement with your age, it’s fine if you decide to avoid adopting a cavalier approach with your emotions, and it’s totally cool to say “no, this isn’t love, we don’t have to try this”. There’s also a chance that your mental receptors start to distinguish “your voice tickles me and I love talking to you for long hours” from “hey, is there a chance that our stars align in the sky?”

When I tune out (as is usually the case with my attempts to catch on to the art of loving), it’s not because I am playing chess and checkers with people’s emotions, it’s probably because I may just not want to be in that headspace anymore, but of course, “he’s an asshole” is a convenient narrative, good for Twitter threads and Instagram posts. One minute I want her around, the next minute I want to binge on akara and drift off. My wiring is meh, I have never set out to put anyone through the wringer from a psycho-emotional perspective. On the flip side, however, people run to the mental health umbrella for refuge when they can’t bear to admit their spiteful nature.

“I am Gemini/Pisces and thanks to the horoscope, I can’t be bothered to reply messages yen yen yen…”

“I am a creative, so I tend to ghytbnhjlpmsdf…”

No, you’re toxic. Fix up, grow a pair, get drugs and/or therapy and stop making excuses for despicable behaviour.

In the end though, we are all guinea pigs in this huge social experiment. Facebook and Tinder tell you it’s easy to get laid, but they don’t remind you that a lot of mental processing comes with the moans. Trust me, you don’t want to be 27, and spent, and unwilling to show up at social events because you don’t want to start off another vicious cycle of knowing, syncing with, detaching from and unlearning people.

Forget about Woke Twitter, live out your emotions the way you are psychologically configured. Behind all the clapbacks and savagery is a huge black mist laden with emptiness. Don’t lose your soul in trying to align with the prescribed formula for post-modern libertine behaviour. It’s stupid to burn bridges just because you need to create good story material for a manuscript.

In navigating human interactions, Clarity is underrated. Be crystal clear with what (or who) you want, then gauge your emotions and be doubly sure you are up for it. Hearts, guarding and diligence, I guess.

 

“I will beg my way into your garden

and then I’ll break my way out when it rains

just to get back to the place where I started

so I can want you back all over again

I don’t really understand

 

Who do you love?

Babe, I see through your love

who do you love

me, or the thought of me?”