Did you confess your love for someone for the first time over a cell phone message? If the question brings a sheepish smile to your face that means a coy ‘yes’, then do read on. Cell phones might have changed our lives in more ways than one. But not many can claim more influence of the little super machine than the ones blinded by love - be it the prepubescent infatuation, the tempestuous school/college romance, the premarital courtship or even the decades-long marriage.
Gone are the days when young suitors waited for hours in shady corners, with sweaty palms and cold feet, for a chance to hand over long letters professing their undying love to their sweethearts. For many of today’s anxious lovers who want to avoid a possibly awkward rejection during the ‘proposal’ phase of the relationship, texting is definitely a blessing. The lack of a direct interpersonal interaction makes it easier for one to face the rejection with a bit more grace.
But for many others, cell phones have helped reduce the distance between partners in long-distance relationships. Laya Chandran (name changed) met her boyfriend in the United States when she went to study there. After years of being together through their college days and then as professionals, the couple now find themselves thousands of kilometres apart, thanks to the US visa policy. Despite a range of smart phone applications at their fingertips, Laya feels that staying away from her lover hasn’t been easier.
“In the last two years or so, we have a host of new mobile applications that have made staying away from each other easier than before. Applications like WhatsApp, Wechat, Viber, Hangout etc help you text, call and even see your boyfriend any time. Moreover, all of these applications are free, save for internet charges. Even if you are away from each other, the separation is not as prominent as it would have been even six years back. Yet, there is something lacking when you don’t get to see each other. Whether phones can completely overcome this separation, only time could tell,” she says.
For some youngsters, cell phones aren’t really the solution to separation anxiety and it all boils down to the person you are. Hirachan, a Manipuri student in Chennai, says, “Whether mobile phones really have an influence changes from couple to couple. For some, it might be important to call each other everyday over the phone. For others, it might not be necessary and there might be other ways to show their care and affection.”
Far from strengthening relationships, mobile phones have also often been held guilty of pushing young people into unsustainable and even dangerous relationships. However, psychologists point out that blaming the device for the menace can hardly throw up a solution or help check the problem.
“The impact of a mobile phone depends upon the person who uses it, their level of maturity and discretion. People who get into relationships with unknown persons over phones are often emotionally immature. When it comes to schoolchildren, this vulnerability increases. But the problem is not restricted to the younger generation alone. There are married couples who try to control each other through phones. This again comes out of insecurity and lack of self-esteem. Rather than blaming the mobile phones for the issues, what needs to be done is increased awareness among students and other vulnerable sections with sex education, sessions on recognition of various kinds of abuse,” say Rajani Nandakumar, a psychologist says.