Sometimes I find myself thinking that your friend’s answer to the question, “How are you?” defines the level of relationship especially if they’re having a bad day. If you two were really close and they were having a bad day, they would tell you, “I’m having a bad day but I don’t want to talk about it,” and you would understand. It wouldn’t effect your relationship. But if you’re not that close and you are honest about not wanting to talk about it, they might take offense, thinking, “They don’t trust me enough to talk about it.” That’s why it’s easier to just say, “I’m fine,” and leave it at that.
There are those that are meant to be deceitful. They’re associated with cheating, lying, and essentially projecting a false image of oneself so others would approve of them. Then there are those you wear as a courteous move in order not to bother the world with your problems. Basically, you don’t want people to keep on bombarding you with ‘What’s wrong with you?’ and so you learn to hide under this mask. Which is not particularly that bad because our brain cells process tens and millions of thoughts, and having us project our thoughts incessantly can be both tiring for us and the poor listener.
However, the existence of all these masks show you the standard depth (or not) of relationships nowadays. To really be friends with someone is to expose yourself, be vulnerable, and yet I guess we can concede that due to many disappointments it’s not always good to put yourself in that situation until the person proves to be trustworthy. So masks are easier to wear and take off when it’s appropriate.
Then there is technology redefining relationships. It builds what could be called a virtual (online) mask. It can be deceitful and/or courteous. With virtual masks you can hide behind usernames, passwords, blogs and twitter handles and this is what I’m doing right here.
I personally find myself thinking about how technology seems to give us a false sense of connection. When I was young , I still remember how ‘calling home’ meant collecting coins, walking all the way to the call-box and screaming so people at the other side would hear us. But the people we called weren’t many. They were mainly relatives. And we called them on important occasions. Eid, wedding, …etc. Now years later, all it takes is a few taps on this device and you are immediately connected to people thousands of miles away…and you don’t have to scream (even though the older generation still do, but you get my drift). However, look at how long our list of contacts is. Just saving a number to your phone gives you the opportunity to immediately connect with them through whatsapp. And yet, how many of us really do? And when we do, how many of us go beyond the polite courtesies? If there is a story that needs to be told, calling works better. And even that removes the body language from the equation, so the impact isn’t as much as it would be if you can actually see people’s faces reacting to whatever you’re saying.
I was also thinking about how unfortunately dating has become so common in the Arab world nowadays despite it being unacceptable religiously. What I really don’t understand about people who get into it is how much can you really know somebody before marriage? Even if a couple has been together for so long (let’s say the eight years it takes for high school and university), one really can’t know a person completely until they’re married to them. The late-night phone calls and the outings…these are all controlled environments that help advance the plot and highlight specific character traits that the two sides intend on showing. However, when situations happen that really tests relationships after marriage, they end up breaking down completely at the seams, because they discover that this person they thought they loved before marriage has changed. But that makes you wonder if they have really changed or would that be the sound of the mask striking the floor as it is pulled off?
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