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Like, Comment, Share: Life In the Age of Social Media

Like, Comment, Share: Life In the Age of Social Media

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Like, Comment, Share: Life In the Age of Social Media

353 pagine
5 ore
Nov 30, 2015


"The kids nowadays have no idea at all. For them everything is easy, perhaps too easy... you don´t know the meaning of a word? Just go to Google and type that word and definition. You don´t know where is that country? Just go to Wikipedia. You want the possibility of hearing millions of songs for free? Just download one of these programs and enjoy it. There was a pre-Internet world and another after the advent of the World Wide Web."

Like, Comment Share: Life in the age of Social Media is a thrilling voyage into the heart of modern day existence, with all its gadgets, live streaming, always on broadband, wi-fi and a myriad of social media networks dictating trends and opinions. In this fascinating story the reader embarks on a journey through friendship and love in today´s fast-paced social media age.
Nov 30, 2015

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Like, Comment, Share - Paulo Ramos




I think we should talk …

These five words were the beginning of the end of our relationship. Curiously, five was the same number of years we had been together. The conversation wasn’t easy. Could it ever be—especially when the introduction easily forecasts what is coming up?

I suddenly pretended to be surprised by the description of the motives for which we would enter the next phase: the dreaded friend zone. I always thought of friendship among ex-lovers as something very odd, or even absurd. When you really love someone, or at least when one of the two is really in love with the other, it is hard—or even impossible—to stay disconnected from the loving part of that relationship. To see who we want and get only his or her sympathetic look doesn’t seem emotionally healthy.

I decided to be pragmatic about it in order not to prolong the agony. She talked about space, the need to find herself again, and all those typical expressions people say so they can minimize the damage, including the well-known line, It is not you; this is about me. All of it was fast, like a highway car accident—immediate and apparently painless. Trying to stray away from pitiful feelings, I implied I felt those same feelings for a while, which caused her to show some relief in her facial expression. We arranged a date for her moving out, and we tried to change the topic of conversation to that of a more comfortable subject, such as movies or music, but it didn’t quite work. We felt weird, like two young adults about to end an Interrail journey—a journey that had been lots of fun but had a stamped expiration time. It felt it was time for both of us to return to our own worlds.


A month later I closely watch the shrapnel in my apartment from this relationship explosion: clothes on the floor, multiple cups spread randomly around the house, weird smells, some ignored trash lying on the floor. There was no doubt I was back to being single. Some people deal very well with this situation, but I was never one of those. In my younger days everything seemed easier; the attraction codes were simple, and women seemed more linear. There were the school notes changing hands in the classroom, the dedicated poems, love tapes carefully mixed in order to enchant the girl. Then there were the dates, the music concerts, the cinema nights with the popcorn trays and the hands running loosely. It all seemed so straightforward; or could it be this feeling derived only from the fact that we were younger and therefore more eager to live? Today, with Internet sites, blogs, social media, e-mails, a whole different number of apps and other stuff, it all seems very complex and a thousand miles per hour. It seems people don’t have time to breathe, jumping from date to date, from conversation to conversation, and from lover to lover with the same ease of mind used to change a shirt.

I tried to reverse the disorder of my life: I swapped hours wasted on television for going out with friends, while casting vague looks at the photographs spread around the house, which showed love and a common project for the future. I tried to change my daily routines, discover new places around town, experiment, and try new things, which I had been postponing forever. I met people with whom I had lost regular contact. I think the feeling of electing a hardcore nucleus of friends—usually couples with the same interests and goals in life—is only natural. I soon rediscovered Lisbon, the city of shining light, delicious food, warmth, and good vibes. I went back to having coffee in Chiado in the company of Fernando Pessoa’s statue, surrounded by tourists, artists, and students. It was in one of these enterprises that I arranged a meeting with Afonso, one of my longtime friends from my college days. We hadn’t been in contact for some time; we just vaguely knew where the other was. He knew I lived with Teresa for some years, and I knew he could be probably found in the new or trendy spot in town. I also knew he would probably be with a newfound friend, girlfriend, or both, I just couldn’t quite keep up with the transformations in his emotional life. It is curious how life can change. When I met him I was an extrovert, always changing places and swapping girlfriends. He, instead, was more reserved, thoughtful, the kind of person who thinks five times before deciding, draws up lists of pros and cons. It’s funny to see that after all these years we had exchanged our ways; now I was married, predictable, and had a very scheduled life, while he seemed to be living a second youth.

I remember when we first met; he dressed like a geek, completely maladjusted to the trends of that time, and I was all rebel, with leather, tattoos, black clothes. There was a huge contrast. I think maybe this served as a motive for the start of a great friendship. I was intrigued by his musical taste, his hesitations, and his platonic passions. What a character was my future best friend Afonso! I was all practical and objective, and he was as straight as an incomplete circle. We functioned very well as friends, and we had respect for different opinions, although we never wanted to lose an argument; we always had to have the last word. In addition, the brightness of his dark world attracted a certain type of female while my more rockabilly postmodern look attracted the more mainstream and trendy girls from that period. You could say it was a great deal for both of us. Sometimes I dated one of those girls who listened to the Smiths, the Cure, and so forth as he explored the more cheerful and relaxed women, a territory unknown to him back then. We’d kept each other’s contact information when we went our separate ways. Unlike me, he always found it difficult to maintain or even want lasting relationships, preferring to jump from flower to flower instead. I was accustomed to not having to memorize the names of his girlfriends’ friends and girlfriends when we met, since he seemed to have a different one each time I saw him.

We had not seen each other for about six months when we met again on a terrace on Graça with a magnificent view over the city of Lisbon, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with its mesmerizing light, the magnificent Tagus River, and its calm and wonderful people.

There’s the Greatest! Afonso, how are you doing? We can’t go so long without meeting.

Hello Luis, I’m fine, thank you. What about you? You’re right, it was a long time without meeting.

What will you drink?

With this heat, a beer! And you?

A beer too!

So how are you, after what happened? I was amazed at your recent news; you two seemed made for each other!

You know how it is: wear and tear, routine—the usual in this circumstance, I guess. Anyway, now I’m back on the singles market!

Yep, routine plus wear and tear should put an end to a relationship … As you know, I’m somewhat illiterate in those areas! You have to be calm and think this may be the beginning of a great adventure!

A great adventure? Please elaborate Afonso …

This has never been better! Lisbon is modern, the people are European, the women are stunning! There are several gorgeous ladies walking by.

I don’t know if I’m ready to return to the dating game at the moment; I am still somewhat battered emotionally, and I don’t even know if I can still manage the weapons of massive seduction with dexterity. The singles theater of operations seems very strange and sometimes scary nowadays. You must have noticed that for five years I was practically married!

Practically? You were more stranded than a convict in a maximum-security prison! You have to get out of your shell now, you cannot stay holed up, stuck in negative thoughts! You will see; you will feel better as soon as you start going out again.

Let’s see. What about you? How are the kids? Very naughty?

You know how it is; it is getting worse. Educating teens has never been so complicated. You neglect yourself and a thoughtless moment suddenly appears on the Internet.

What do you mean?

A colleague of mine had a clash with a kid while a colleague was filming the row using one of these smartphones armed with microphone, camera, mp3 player. As a result: teacher caught on YouTube!

It is diabolical! I still use an old model; I don’t find these modern gadgets appealing.

Well, we must follow the technological evolution! What about you and your translations? Can they sponsor the next round? This one is on me!

You know how it is; there are many fluctuations, but fortunately my clients portfolio is broad and generous!

Look at you: ‘clients portfolio.’ You are talking like a CEO executive!

Bah, CEO executives are nothing compared with me!

Way to go! I’m glad to know you didn’t file away your sense of humor!

Never! In fact it is practically all that remains! It is necessary to learn how to laugh at this situation, right?

Sure! Look, I’ve been looking for you on the Internet and I haven’t found you. What’s your name on Facebook? Or are you one of those who adopted a heteronym to play at will?

Facebook? That is the trendy program everyone is talking about, right? It seems that everyone is going crazy with that.

Program? The trendy program everyone is talking about? What? Don’t you exist on Facebook?

No, why? Is that such a heavy crime?

Okay, the situation is more serious than I thought. My friend Luis, if you are not on Facebook, you don’t exist in the modern world. Luis, you don’t exist!

Isn’t that a bit exaggerated? Aren’t people already calling and sending e-mails?

Yes, yes, but that’s after talking through Facebook!

Okay, I think you’re hallucinating. He turned to the server. Sorry, not another drink to this person please!

I’m not kidding, there are already more than one billion people connected; it’s a revolution!

Okay, I am beginning to wonder if you have some commission to win. Do you work for them, is that it?

Luis, I’m serious! But wait, you know what it is, right? By now I am about to believe the unthinkable. He then mumbles to himself, A Facebook virgin under forty—what a crazy scene!

I know people enroll, talk to each other, share information. It is similar to Messenger, right?

Similar to Messenger? He turns to the server and says with a wink, Okay, two more beers for this table please; there is a serious heat stroke case.

I’m starting to feel a bit scared; you’re freaking me out!

You are freaking me out! Facebook is where it all happens nowadays, especially in the dating market! You are killing me, man! But didn’t anyone ever tell you this? Where have you been lately?

Deluded on what I thought was a lasting relationship …

Right, but that’s the past. Wait … I have to ask you something.

And with that preamble I suddenly hear the drums rumbling in my head.

They both laughed.

A great buildup!


Now, on a more serious note … do you still love her? Teresa, I mean.

Ah, okay, I thought you meant Maria, Joana, or Rita I said, smiling. You know it is hard to stop caring about someone from one moment to the next. I miss the comfort, company, and such … but I want to move on. I have no interest in regaining her or waiting for a sudden change of events! I think that’s what you wanted to know.

You know me well, my friend!

Yes, I know how your twisted mind works!

Twisted? Thanks, but I think I am not worthy of such praise. Anyway, it is time for you to sign up!

Sign up? What are you talking about? Sometimes I can’t keep up with the thousand windows you have open in your mind at the same time!

Signing up on Facebook! It takes five minutes; I can help you.

I was afraid you would say that … your help. I still remember Anita, that girl you helped me get with the bandit song …

Ah yes, the gothic girl with bad musical taste and dangerous curves! What a trip!

The unpalatable songs I heard in order to get her … and the darkness of her world … I could only put up with that because she was really cute!

What happened, anyway? I don’t remember the outcome.

She caught me with another girlfriend!

Classic. You were never exactly the discreet type.

Yes, I always had the subtlety of an elephant jumping around in a china shop.

Well, I wouldn’t exactly say that! By the way …

And suddenly I hear the drums again. Should I be scared?

No; relax, Luis. I need to know what you are searching for.

Well, you know, the usual: money, fame, and beautiful women. He laughed out loud.

Money and fame are a bit more complicated, but the women … what are you looking for? Describe to me the type of woman you want. Just think of me as your very own sentimental guru!

Okay, Professor Holydis Grace! Do you also treat the evil eye? Maybe you should consider putting an ad in the local newspaper!

Ha ha, how cute! Actually I know many young attractive women for whom you could demonstrate a special attention …

That somehow sounds a bit dangerous. Coming from you, I expect everything and anything! However, to be honest, blind dates—no thanks. I had two or three experiences that I don’t want to repeat!

That bad?

To say they were a bit deviant might be an understatement.

I can imagine! What I am suggesting has nothing to do with blind dates; relax! I am just considering some nice ladies looking for some excitement, he said, smirking.

Hmm … I don’t know. We’ll see, but for now it is still early.

Okay, so promise me this: get me four or five decent photos of you—not very produced, and not with forced smiles or shaggy and wild. And at least one of them has to be with a woman—who can’t be your ex, evidently! Preferably a good-looking one.

That has more guidelines than the projects we took with Professor Out There !

The mythical Professor Out There! ‘Let loose all of it; do not retain anything. Be free, spontaneous, happy, and sad all at the same time, in colors and in real time.’

The sentence of all sentences!

Both laughed out loud.

The mythical! That character, that sentence, was brilliant! What kind of drugs or alcohol must he have taken?

Nothing! The mythical ones don’t need additives! That is what makes them mythical!

They fell into the cauldron of madness when they were babies?


Okay, my friend, it seems that it’s time for me to get going.



Okay, let me pay then.

Be my guest.

So when are we meeting again? This was cool. Afonso, I missed you!

I’ll go to your house. The coast is already clear, right?

Yes, she has left already, just left some things. In fact, tonight she is coming over to take the remaining stuff, the last tranche of our common things. My apartment is a mess, though, perhaps it is better if we instead meet at your place.

Okay, not a problem. It’s settled then. Don’t you start getting all dark now! Take this time to do a little research for possible profile photos. Don’t forget to find the cuties, as I told you.

Profile? That sounds too public!

Well, you will get accustomed. The world of singles has never been so full of sound bites and images! And remember: a picture is worth a thousand words.

Well, that depends on the image, right?

Or the words! he replied, smiling.

Well, it was a pleasure and an honor as always, but now it is time to go.

Okay, my friend, take care, see you soon. Is next Wednesday night okay for you?

Yep, Wednesday night should be okay.

Okay then, Wednesday night we will meet again!

Good-bye my friend!

Good-bye, take care.

It was cool meeting Afonso again. It had been a while since I separated myself to the most relaxed side of life. You know how it is with most couples who decide to live together; life starts running in the orbit of the couples planet. The singles planet becomes a kind of mirage, a distraction like those half-hour sitcoms that we watch to laugh a bit and then easily go back to where we belong.

As I hit the road, on the labyrinthine streets leading all the way to Rossio, I had conflicting emotions in my head. I hadn’t been completely honest with my friend. There was something in me—I would say 20 percent of hope—that wished Teresa suddenly had second thoughts and reversed her decision. As I was walking, I imagined her getting home and flooding me with kisses, followed by epic sex sessions for two days without seeing the outside world! On the other hand, the idea presented by Afonso to get me ready for the wonderful world of singles left me puzzled. I didn’t even remember the last time I walked the paths of the singles scene. When I met Teresa—after that initial phase when no one knows exactly what the other person’s intention, his or her past and future desires, involved—I thought I would never go out fishing for women again. She represented a certain woman I had idealized: very beautiful although not a show stopper (too many maintenance problems), intelligent without being boring, with a great sense of humor, always ready to experience new sensations. I thought she was the most extraordinary woman I had ever known. And isn’t that how we are supposed to feel when we fall in love?

I sometimes wondered what led her to the decision of leaving me. I tried to avoid brooding on the classic reason (she met a more handsome, fun, interesting man), and I wondered if there was something she was hiding from me. We had always been honest with each other. In fact, our whole relationship was based on this premise. However, as we were quite honest to each other, I also knew that a lack of options was something foreign to her. She could easily get a man with her distinctive character. Sometimes I thought about the reasons she had seen in me that had caused her to commit. I was not in the script of her life, so to speak. As she was a university lecturer, her friendships ranged between highly competent people in their areas (not infrequently boring as hell, though) to free spirits she had known on her numerous self-discovery trips, alongside work and college colleagues. It was a beautiful collection—mostly very interesting people, the kind of crowd you want at parties, who are always willing to drop a pearl of knowledge or a funny story. Sometimes I got insecure when starting to draw comparisons between our group of friends.

My gang was more heterogeneous and ranged from childhood friends (with completely disparate lives) to people of the night—artists, musicians, and so on—old high school colleagues, former girlfriends (they rarely maintained contact), friends I made in college, and renowned party people. Although I didn’t have that bad boy look that women admire so much, it can be said that I would surely fall into the bad boys group rather than the nerd bunch. That does not mean, however, there wasn’t a shy geek in me—the avid follower of science fiction, able to tell by heart the stories of all the Star Wars and Star Trek movies; the secret Tolkien reader; the online backgammon enthusiast. Immersed in these thoughts, I found myself at my doorstep. Sometimes you get so lost in your own world that all physical actions become almost automatic, like breathing. The brain is indeed the most powerful organ of the human being! To my great surprise, Teresa had anticipated me, which in turn deprived me of the ability to prepare myself for that meeting:

Hello, how are you? I decided to surprise you!

No doubt, you caught me by surprise! Have you been waiting a long time?

For about two hours, she said, smiling.

Okay, I said, returning the smile.

I got here just five minutes ago.

Why didn’t you call?

I figured you would arrive at this time …

Am I so predictable?

More or less …

Okay, come inside. I opened the door and recognized her typical perfume.

Would you like something? Coffee, tea … vodka?

Hmm, two shots of vodka to open the appetite for dinner, please!

Okay, coming up right now! I said, amused.

Just kidding. You really think I would want a shot of vodka now?

You never know; you are not very predictable, I said, smiling directly at her.


So this is it, right?

So it seems.

And then the rest of our lives.

Wow, that’s heavy! Are you okay? Maybe it was wrong coming back so soon.

No, no, the sooner the better.

Okay, I understand.

Do you?

No, I’m lost. Didn’t you say you also wanted a separation?

That’s what this is? A separation? Or a divorce minus the signed papers?

I’m undecided. I feel lost, Luis!

I have a map.

I know, and it is a great map, but I need to be on my own at the moment.

On your own, or on your way … with a different companion?

Damn, I didn’t know you were jealous.

So there are reasons for feeling jealous, I said, trying to read her facial expression.

No, not at all, but then again, if there was something going on, I would tell you, of course!

Take it easy; don’t get mad. You’re right. I’m still a bit shaken by all this. I miss you, that’s all.

I also miss you.

So come back! Let’s try again.

I can’t; I really have to do this.

This what? You want to be a mother soon, right? I thought we had decided to wait a little.

No, that’s not it.

What is it then?

I don’t know if I want to carry on with this life, living in this country, with this job. There are many things to sort out, and I don’t want to drag you down with my doubts; they are mine, and only I can understand them and choose my way.

That seems like teenager talk, when you wake up to the world not knowing which way to go.

That’s exactly how I feel, Luis!

Teresa, do what you feel like. I just wish you would like to take me with you on that journey.

I don’t ask you to understand; just to be with me and not against me. I’d hate if we got sour toward each other.

Don’t worry; you know I’m sweet. Take your time; I’m fine. I just wanted to know in detail what’s going on.

Why is it that men always need to simplify everything? There are difficult things that are hard to handle, complex emotions …

Complexity is not so much our area.

That’s why I love you. Do not change, Luis! In an impulsive gesture, she hugged me.

Teresa left a few minutes later, but I could still feel her embrace. It was as if the universe had stopped for a moment to give us a beautiful friendship moment—or was it love? Who knows? The truth of the matter was that now she knew it was all a facade. My feelings had been exposed. I now felt vulnerable. It is said that in these times it is best to pick up friends and go out to unwind, but I always preferred to be alone. It seemed hard to feign enthusiasm to a group of people who, in turn, would feel awkward about the situation—the comforting solitude of poets and the damned artists. All of a sudden I looked like a character out of a Dostoyevsky short story.

I prepared a microwave meal—roast duck with rice—and had dinner a few minutes later. I drank the remnants of a bottle of red wine. After I drank a few glasses of vodka with orange, I thought, What a disturbing plot! I feel lost—what nerve! Could she be with another? The most devious thoughts began to rise to my head as I kept drinking more alcohol. Then, as had happened with most life-changing decisions I had made, I felt a tremor in my body and rushed to the living room as fast as I could. There I sat down with my laptop in front of me. I started navigating between my photos folders. Now the problem was the selection. How to choose five good pictures out of 4,861? If there was another man in her life, it would be better to get myself a new woman!


I woke up with a misty spirit and a persistent headache. I was in the living room. In front of me the laptop was turned on atop the coffee table. I was going to get up for a coffee and buttered toast when I decided to check my e-mails. Hell, in a week I have to deliver a translation, and I haven’t even started! Before entering my e-mail client, however, I noticed the presence of a foreign element: a new folder in the middle of the screen with the title You’ll see, just hot girls! I made a great effort trying to remember what had happened, but there was a fog in my brain even more dense than the London smog! Driven by curiosity, I opened the folder, wondering whether it could be a virus file I inadvertently decided to download in the middle of my drunkenness. Suddenly, in all its glory, there they were: five photos of myself, two of them being of me accompanied by girls whose names I almost did not remember. So that’s what I had been doing—selecting photos for my Facebook profile! I laughed at the situation and went to the kitchen enthusiastically, trying to

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