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!