A blank WhatsApp screen and what it means

Is there anything more dreaded than opening a frequently used app – yes, a virtual application – only to find it wiped clean, a white screen? Why are we so attached to things that have no real effect or concrete presence in our daily lives? Why is their disappearance so upsetting, its effect so real?


White. Blank. Nothingness. While this might sound too dramatic, it barely scratches the surface in describing the intensity of what I felt when I opened my WhatsApp one fine April morning to find all my chats gone – all the memories I had amassed over a long period of time, a matter of years, gone, just like that.

The knot in my stomach wouldn’t go away. The more I thought about what I had lost, the more my mood dampened. Feeling ridiculous, I sought solace in my friends, telling them what had just happened in hopes of being understood. And to my utter surprise, one of their responses put in very concrete terms the very abstract feelings that were bothering me: you didn’t lose your chats, you lost your memories. And it hit me just how much our generation relies on keeping records of every step taken, every meal eaten, every country visited. Be it in photos or extensive chats, most communication (and in that sense, memory-keeping!) nowadays occurs online, and losing the trace of those “concrete” memories leaves a gaping hole that can no longer be filled: those days are gone, and with them now the proof that they ever occurred. They can no longer be revisited in full; they are confined to the treacherous workings of human memory that too often can color past occurrences in very subjective ways.

This incident got me thinking: how attached are we, this technological, hyper-connected generation, to the virtual world? How much of our lives actually occurs online? How much of our memories are stored online? How does that affect us, be it in a positive or negative manner, in our daily lives?

Even after contemplation and soul-searching, the answer escapes me. I do not know whether or not such record keeping is good for us, keeping us rooted to the reality of things, or whether the reality of things lies in the real moment in which they happened. And were it not for the virtual world, I would not even be able to share these ideas with you as I am right now – food for thought.

That’s it for now – but what about you, what’s your two cents? Who knows, maybe if we all pool our ideas, we’ll come to some sort of a conclusion!

About Caline Nasrallah

I am a student at Université Saint-Joseph completing my graduate studies in translation and editing. I enjoy reading, writing, and boxing. I have a passion for putting into words what seems too fleeting and ephemeral to be recorded so permanently. Traductrice- Rédactrice promo 2017 École de traducteurs et d'interprètes de Beyrouth Université Saint-Joseph

18 comments on “A blank WhatsApp screen and what it means

  1. Pingback: اللّحظة التي خذلني فيها هاتفي | Mosaïk

  2. Beautifully worded thoughts. Sadly, our world has become virtual, and memories now exist in and have been condensed to bytes and pixels, when for so long our brains have sufficed for that job. I would understand the pain of losing pictures. For so long people have tried to immortalize a moment or feeling in time whether in painting/drawing,later to develop to photography. There was always this yearning to freeze time. Human nature I guess to fight against time. And with technology, it has become easier to « save » memories in different digital forms. And I believe this serves today’s generation, a generation that does not easily believe in the unpalpable and « unseeable ». If I dont see it or feel it then it doesnt exist. I guess this,in a way, falls into this « trend ». It is just another manifestation of this generation’s beliefs.

  3. The words employed help paint perfectly what today seems to be quite a sad reality especially for us millennials. The article serves as a wake-up call and I hope whoever stumbles upon it digests its message properly as so to make better changes to their lives and the manner in which they experience people and life.

  4. As ridiculous as this may seem, you voiced out what so many of us feel. It is scary how much this generation has become dependent on social media, and how it is increasingly controlling our lives. Hungry for positive feedback, we publicize (the good parts of) our lives on social platforms, and feel a huge ego boost when we get the attention we so desperately crave. Who are we- or should I say what is left of us- when we strip ourselves of this virtual « reality » that makes us feel so self-content and proud? The void social media fills…

    • Very true, we only post what we want people to see, giving them an image of our lives that is not necessarily accurate. This could make others feel insecure about their own lives, or vice versa. The « virtual reality » you speak of should really be thought about more deeply, with people trying to enrich their real selves instead of just their virtual presence.

  5. love this article!! It really illustrates the growing alienation we all feel by being addicted to our hardware, and the increasing online validation we need from others.

  6. Great article. You made so many valid points. Technology has become so crucial with millennials. I personally find it impossible not to check my phone every two minutes. It becomes so time consuming that I feel like we are not focusing on the moment, but rather trying to document every second to post on all sorts of social media. Which makes me wonder if the overuse of social media is actually bringing people together or tearing them apart.

    • Thanks! I’d argue for you latter point; I really think that social media is tearing us apart because people now go out and spend time together just to post it on a certain platform… it’s so rare to find someone truly living in the moment.

  7. Beautifully written, I couldn’t agree more. This generation relies on online sources to store every bit of information, which has its perks at times. You didn’t lose your memories, you lost your chats. Onto new chats and new memories.

  8. thats happened to me a few times. i find im more sad about losing pictures vs. losing text messages. pictures immortilize a moment in ur life that u wanted to keep forever. the problem is that we dont keep physical copies of those pictures anymore like our parents did. so if they get erased, thats it. we lose that moment. we cant show it to our kids one day, we cant look back on it and reminisce.

    • Of course!! Losing pictures is much worse, I agree… but I somehow felt like losing my chats was a little similar to that, because they described some events or times in my life in extensive detail, details that are now limited to my memory which could very well fail me at times. But with regard to photos, PRINT PRINT PRINT!

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