He would be hurt, probably angry, but she had to do what was right. Follow your head, not some old emotional baggage that had been weighing her down, holding her back. Conversation was approaching, a smile on his face as he neared the bench where they would start their walks around Alta Laguna Park and beyond. She would miss those facial expressions, the wink, the nod of the head, those non-verbal cues he sent out, but she would not miss the awkward silences, the pressure to come up with just the right thing to say at just the right time.
“Hey, Rachel. It’s a beautiful day for a walk. The sun is out, but not too warm…Wait why aren’t you dressed in your walking clothes? You look like you’re dressed for a date or something.
Rachel knew she had to get right to the point. Stumbling, hesitating would give him a chance to use his words and words gave him power. “Con, if you only had a smart phone this could have been done so much more easily. That’s the problem. I’ve come to see you as old, almost eccentric. This exclusive face-to-face relationship you want is just too constrictive. There are so many new ways to be with people and I need to explore those ways.”
“You’re leaving me after all this time, aren’t you? Leaving me for Texting. I should have been able to see this coming. I can read your eyes well, but they’ve been glued to your phone recently.”
“Look, Con, let’s not drag this out. Words hurt. We had some good times, but I have got to move on.”
“To shallow Mr. Texting? Don’t you see where you’re headed? He’ll pimp you out soon to Mr. Twitter and not long after that you’ll be hooking up with Mr. Facebook. Then, just a short step to Snapchatting like a Kardashian. Swipe left, swipe right.”
“That’s not Snapchat, that’s Tinder. You are so behind the times! And you are being mean.”
“At least you can see my anger. Facing someone can be tough, but it’s real. You have to face the consequences of your words.”
“Text allows me to present myself as I want to be. He allows me to edit and polish before hitting ‘send.’ I can be a better me, the person I was meant to be.”
“Rachel, when we talk, face to face, we listen, we look, we hear. We are empathetic, more human. People who date Texting get lost in their digital pre-performance. You are going to become afraid of being alone, of not being constantly in contact with others, no matter how shallow the subject.”
“If I hook up with Text, I can be with him and be somewhere else at the same time. I can be at the Rooftop Lounge and text my friends at Nick’s about how beautiful the sunset is. Remember when we saw the whales that one day? I want to share things like that.”
“Yes, and we talked about the whales and what a sight it was. We laughed and held hands and shared the moment with our eyes and our words. Just us. That’s all we needed.”
“I was so much older then; I’m younger than that now.”
“You’re really going to do it then? Trade me in for the illusion of companionship? Digital connection is not friendship. You’re falling for a guy who has buttons where his heart should be.”
“Con, talk is messy, awkward, filled with gaps. You are just too demanding.”
Just then Conversation saw Texting drive up. He stopped his car, and, making no move to get out, or look at Rachel, he took out his phone and began texting. Rachel’s phone pinged. She looked down and smiled.
“Goodby, Con,” she said. She walked toward Texting’s new car, a shiny Iphone 6s. “What a effortless new world this is. Newer is always better,” she thought.
James Utt is a retired social science teacher who has been left behind in the digital dust.View Our User Comment Policy