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Posted at: Jan 7, 2018, 1:34 AM; last updated: Jan 7, 2018, 1:34 AM (IST)

Forever can be fleeting

Like, dislike, follow, unfollow… Relationships formed over social media and apps keep evolving
Forever can be fleeting
In touch: It’s easier to stay connected in the digital world. What’s difficult is making the hearts connect in the real world IStock

Ashima Sehajpal Batish

O ne’ shares a video on Facebook. ‘Someone’ else shares it as well. That ‘Someone’ supports the same social cause on social media that ‘One’ stands for. Several posts and pictures are common on both walls. Mutual friends and friends of friends translate into a few more common threads between them to begin chatting, talking, becoming friends and then entering a relationship. The relationship status switches from acquaintances to a couple and the reason cited is compatibility. 

From holding hands and lending an ear to each other to clicking on same videos and pictures and following same celebrities, love has come a long way. It’s the new-age love, in digital format, and it plays the role of tectonic plates in Isaac John’s debut book Buffering Love.  It’s on this new-age love that the foundation of 15 short stories is laid, at times, rock solid, at times, shaky.

Most of the instances and situations in the book are borne out of his personal experiences and of those around him.  As he started writing sometime in 2016, Isaac realised that technology and its function of making people connect was becoming the warp and weft of the stories. “Unlike the love of late 1990s and early 2000s, it did not need face-to-face interaction to blossom,” informs Isaac. From the screens of phones, panels of laptops, monitors of desktops, it was charting its course from one heart to another.

But sometimes somethings go wrong mid-way and the stories capture that part of love too — love that’s unrequited and love that’s unsure. “It’s like buffering and half-complete. You also doubt if love will pass the test of time.” Hence the title Buffering Love. The stories are based in the real world, which means real streets and markets and bars and restaurants and apps. Apps as real as WhatsApp, Tinder, Airbnb, Facebook, Instagram and even TripAdvisor. While for others, you can imagine fictional conversations and their contexts, TripAdvisor seems the odd one out. It finds mention in Table For One, a story about a young boy, who is a solo traveller and a foodie. He frequently misses out on getting a table in a restaurant as a group of people are preferred to him for rendering heavy bills and generating better revenues. He posts his experiences on TripAdvisor and finds someone sharing a similar experience. The two become a team, fall in love each other and with food. 

When streaming through apps and social media, some love stories lose track. Facebook comes handy while making a relationship public, it helps to announce the current relationship. And it can even play the first-friend-to-turn-foe, when a relationship hits a rough patch. The friend list suddenly stops appearing as friendly on Facebook and your followers can appear to be trolls on Instagram. “Pairing of love and social media can work both ways. The latter can be very intrusive but at the same time, it makes people candid about their relationships, howsoever complicated these might be.”

 In love you have to take chances. Isaac cites example of a friend who met a date through Tinder and later went on to marry her. At the same time, there are also cases where couples meet via matrimonial sites and love never happens, though wedding does. 

The book is set in metropolitan cities, but the fact is that love buffers more in smaller towns of India. To be a couple here is an arduous task. Two individuals can’t easily miss the eyes of parents, teachers, neighbours and society. Social media and apps play parks and seaside for them. And here you don’t have anti-Romeo squads chasing away love.

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