‘Distantly Connected’ by Jessica Fernandes

Distantly Connected

Illustration by Andres Garzon

 

When I was in seventh grade, I was introduced to The Beatles on a rainy day. Our school’s recess hour was cancelled due to bad weather, but none of us were really bothered by this. We stayed inside and passed around our MP3 players, listening to each other’s playlists. One person picked out the tune while two of us shared an earphone each.

There wasn’t a need to seek things elsewhere. We simply relied on each other’s recommendations. As this memory distances itself from the ones I am currently making today, I realize that collective oriented events are slowly diminishing due to the expenditure of digital services. Instead, we unconsciously choose to partake in isolated experiences that supposedly bring us together online.

I don’t think things have changed because I’m aging, but because the nature of our society has changed. The world has become fast-paced and time is not easily gained; so, we fall for any trick that saves time. Whether one wants to find a new friend or even love, there are now shortcuts to making these connections: shortcuts to eliminate the awkwardness and uncertainty of first encounters. I realized that friendships would no longer be made through a developed passion for something and that new technologies would hinder the authenticity of how relationships are naturally created.

Being born in the 90s, I recently began to comprehend the obsession revolved around being a 90s kid. Perhaps, it’s because we had the privileged experience of being the last generation to have an organic childhood. As I reflect on my own memories, I realize I miss the sense of proximity that was once guaranteed when we met friends at a given a place and time. Today, we remind people of our presence by pressing hollow hearts that turn red or by giving a virtual thumbs-up. All this to say, the sense of connection felt a lot closer. All we do now is preserveour status in people’s lives in an effortless manner. Thus, I wonder if true friendships can be maintained online and if digitalizing the world is leading us in a good direction. This being said, I worry about our future. I worry that this upcoming generation will be raised by Alexa and turn towards generated responses for guidance; that communicating with our close ones would be too difficult to plan.

I may sound like a whiny millennial, criticizing my generation’s habits, but I often find myself talking about this concern and am told that it’s just the way things are now: that all my memories occurred because time allowed them to unfold this way.

Whenever I take the subway or walk in the mall, I end up coming across those popular “90s kid” or “made in the 90s” fluorescent t-shirts. I develop some sort of connection to the people wearing them due to our common situation. However, I can’t help but chuckle because I don’t think any other generation has worn pieces of clothing that displaysa sense of pride in their decade of birth. I guess it’s just the sense of privilege in experiencing the world through two lenses. One, having the opportunity to experience the world for ourselves and not digitally. And two, letting time decide our encounters.

Sometimes I wonder how fast connections will be made twenty years from now, and at what pace? Will it be the same, or will things speed up even more? I can’t think of anything grander than what we currently have, and I don’t think there should be a need for something “new and improved.” We could continue outdoing ourselves, but eventually we all desire what we started out with. I know connections are made in different ways and mean something different to each person, but I don’t want our connections to be sustained by wires. Instead, I want to return to the roots of how connections were madeduring my childhood and through my teenage years: through face to face interactions.

I guess we remain a game of connect the dots, or maybe stars mapped out in the night sky—out of reach but linked by our interests and similarities.

 


JESSICA FERNANDES was born in raised and Montreal. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and is currently doing her Masters at McGill University. She has an interest in writing personal essays that focus on teenagehood and current social issues. If she isn’t typing, she is probably reading about mid-century modern designs. You can spot her wearing turtlenecks and drinking coffee on most days.

Copyright © 2018 by Jessica Fernandes. All rights reserved.