We refer to them variously as a script, a play, a performance, a mirror. We hold them up for scrutiny. We rely on them for our memories. They become our alibis; they evolve into our screen double. Conversations, what else?
Our textual voice is our living tombstones, dead after the second you hit enter and update. We carefully archive each, in the doomed hope that we may someday need them, like we need our dead loved ones so badly in the middle of the night.
Our online conversations are our serotonin kicks and our band aids. They faithfully record all our transgressions, sometimes in the glare of an agoraphobic’s worst nightmare, and sometimes, safely locked away behind mile high curtains of privacy. A burst of word – ‘wattsup’ – induces us to spill everything and at other times we wait with bated breaths as the chat window flashes: ‘XYZ is typing’.
Even the double Enters and ellipses convey meaning, building suspense, or someone eager to share gossip. Texts accompany the loud clatter of keys, cocooned in the glare-light of the screen. It’s strange to engage in silence, mouths shut, mouths stretched in silent grins, throats gurgling in laughter, but no text spoken loud. Strange. And soothing. Habits are like that.
Texts are our morning ablutions and the nightly glass of boiled milk (or jasmine tea, if you prefer), we start with them and bid them goodbye, in the world that is perpetually ‘on’. They supersede human sounds and drown out the loud clicks of the mouse. Chats are the excitement you feel once again, following years of missed Friday Night Dates.
Conversations are the kind words you missed telling your mother while you were yelling away another text of rebellion, and the chance to bring back a smile with a brief “your daughter has sent you an e-greeting card’ message. They have even mutated into micro-syntax and funny squiggles, <:-) (-: > silent texts screaming emotions.
The text records my histories. Archives allow instant retrieval of the past, marking my behavior online. Allowing me to see the script of my performance. Is there a sense of deliberation in this play? Time and text compress. Identities mingle. The textual twin knows my future. It knows how to be independent. She. What am I without her? I owe her this life on the other side of the screen. Tepid and unhurried, filled with ennui. Please ‘Like’ me dear.