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Digital dynamics and Valentine

By Rose Chipumphula:


Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love and romance. But the origins of the festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody and sometimes muddled.

Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the day, one good place to start with is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by killing a goat and celebrating together. But with the coming of technology, people celebrate Valentine’s Day in different ways compared to ancient days.

Valentine is not only about flowers, chocolate and cards. It is something big and goes beyond buying flowers. These days it is not complete without shopping. Valentine’s Day shopping now includes gifts for friends and family members.

In the past, people celebrated Valentine’s Day in a Christian way. The numbers of people buying presents for friends and family increased during Valentine’s Day. Even hotels and restaurants have special food on offer. And the prices are slashed to make them more affordable for those who want to surprise their loved ones.

Shopping aside, surprises aside too, there is a new development in as far as lovers celebrate Valentine’s Day. Technology, through social media, seems to have hijacked the way people look at Valentine’s Day. According to Memory Sawamba, a social media enthusiast, it is true that there is more than just anecdotal evidence to back this up but social media has given people a platform to hijack Valentine’s Day.

“Facebook has become a hub for people sending messages, videos and songs to family and their loved ones. Others use social media to organise events or sell their products on Valentine’s Day. I have seen people selling goods using social media during Valentine’s Day at a cheaper price,” Sawamba says.

She adds: “Be it tweets, texts, snaps, emoji or email, technology has made it easier to communicate than ever before. But it has also made it harder for those who cannot afford Internet to send messages to their loved ones.”

Anastasia Chiphika, another technology enthusiast, says technology has been a huge assist in the digital age when it comes to sending messages to family and friends and that Valentine’s Day is no exception.

She reckons that people are able to send love messages to whoever they wish, wherever in the world, through digital platforms unlike in the past when people used to write letters and other modes of communications to reach out to their loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

She says technology is by far reliable and instant. Thus sending letters via post offices is the mode of communication that is not only too slow, but also unreliable and a bit old fashioned.

“Imagine your life without your phone! Without your mobile phone, you cannot make all those long-distant calls and send that long-distant text. Technology has made life easier,” Chiphika says.

She explains that with the advancement, people are able to communicate though platforms like WhatsApp without spending a lot of money. Such platforms, Chiphika adds, allow people to do even video and voice calls.

She says one can send a message at the exact time they want it to go and that it happens instantly, making communication on a special day like Valentine’s Day easier and better. She says life would have been hell without technology.

It is also imperative to note that navigating communication in a relationship is hard enough, but throw in the constant chirping and chatter of today’s connected society and it can be life with pitfalls, wrong turns and dead ends. But technology can also help to communicate more effectively and keep relationships based on shared interests, says Andrew Phiri.

“Some people would be delighted to get a text: ‘I love you or can’t wait to see you’. Others would send a message ‘I want to hear that face to face’,” Phiri says.

He argues that he is not addicted to social media. He got his first cell phone in 2012. He is on WhatsApp but not active on other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He believes that technology has never replaced face-to-face communication. It has added to it just a few things. Social media and telephone added ways people communicate so did the Internet, email and text messages.

And for lovers, this Valentine’s Day they should remember a few things to communicate to their loved ones on what technological advances can do to a relationship. It may help to develop rules with their partners.

They should figure out when a call is expected versus a text and what should be said face to face. They should also keep private things private and use common sense when deciding what to post on social media for the world to see.

With the digital world of communication, we sometimes regret what we have shared moments after posting it. These rules take time to develop and new couples might struggle because they are used to using digital communication. They must be cautious.

In the past, people used letters to communicate messages to their loved ones during Valentine’s Day which was expensive. Additionally, messages got to loved ones way after the day had already been celebrated. Sometimes, this resulted in breakups and disagreements.

Valentine’s Day brings with it creativity and inspiration. It is okay to be a Digital humbug banging on about the good old days when people would be like Romeo and Juliet, whittled hearts and cupids out of trees they felled with their own bare hands.

The thing is the digital world is fit to burst with inspirational and creative ways to make Valentine’s day more wonderful. The important thing as ever with social media is that the same rules of etiquette that apply in the real world apply on social media. So, keep this in mind and enjoy the love on social media by sending your loved ones good and lovely messages.

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