Based on a case study of two young adults engaging in an ambiguous relationship with uncertain outcome, this study investigates how computer-mediated communication (CMC), and more specifically the exchange of private messages on Facebook, could encourage greater intimacy between two potential romantic partners. Conducted by request of one of the two subjects studied who has been suffering from a chronic lack of affection, this study seeks to help her to better infer the meaning of the verbal cues sent by the male subject.
First, I will carry out a close reading of private messages exchanged by the two informants during moments of heightened communication on Facebook (identified by the female subject). The concept of online self-disclosure, i.e. the disclosing of personal information, thoughts and feelings that are not easily shared in an offline context, will provide the main theoretical framework for my analysis. In interpreting these messages, I will take into account the offline events occurring on the same days, events that might be referred to in the text. Second, the textual analysis will be completed by interviews with the female subject on the perceived intimacy between her and the male subject, as well as her memoirs of their offline interactions.
The purpose of this study is not to predict relationship outcome based on the degree of self-disclosure, hence intimacy, but to assist the female subject in her own evaluation. Ultimately, it could perform a therapeutic function by offering the female subject a momentary distraction from her agony through an engaging, insightful and completely rubbish reading.
– Work in progress –
“there falls the rain, there comes the storm, darkens the sky
I wish to be with you on days like this and hold you tight.”
It’s a stormy morning, and these words return to my mind as I look at the gloomy sky. Despite the repeated creak coming from the stairs that are violently shaken by the wind, and the cascading sound of heavy shower, it’s brutally quiet. As if the rain has muted all human sounds. That’s my favorite part about rainy weather. The rain defeats us. It reduces us to vulnerable and fragile creatures. It extinguishes our arrogance.
I wrote the two above lines on a rainy summer afternoon 4 years ago, when I was in Vietnam. They were inspired by another person, but of course they are all about you now. Even the senses and the mood about that day are gone, no longer associated with these words. The signifier “you” remains the same, but the signified has changed. The old signified faded away, disappeared, and was rendered non-existent. You are the unique signified now, the same way you wholly inhabit my mind.
You gave me a book and said that it had a story, but I didn’t mind. In fact, not only your book, my words, or your dog (that you unconditionally share with me), and I guess everything else that makes up our own individual worlds, but both of us also have our stories. However, that should not matter. We are not owned by them forever.
I often think that essence is taken for granted. We actively attach meanings to things in our life. The structuralists have separated the signifier from the signified because their association is arbitrary. Meanings are not intrinsic or incorrigible. If we can’t control what happen to us, then at least we can decide what it means.
This is the kind of song that you listen to on a summer night when you feel lonely and the road is yours. You see some stranger’s silhouette that you mistake for somebody you knew. The warm yellow light from the street lamps and the windows is in a perfect contrast with the twilight sky. The moon is a faint spot of light brushed away by a thin veil of cloud. The sun lingers on top of the canopy whose thick and dark shape forms a rampart surrounding the sunflower field, above which the sky opens up like a canvas painted in an oneiric blue, the shade of blue that you’ve only seen in Magritte’s world. You chase the night. You keep going until it absorbs you and you can’t find the way back. Time stands still as the bicycle’s wheels turn around, and time is infinite. For a second, you wish that you were truly alone in this world. That there was no one to miss, that you were one and whole in the uniqueness of your existence, like a prime number.
This is happiness. I could very live like this until the rest of my life, but I’d probably die out of boredom and frustration. Which makes it a happiness. It’s not meant to last. I only love this place because it’s not mine forever, and so it’s mine, in this present moment. Once I realize that, I feel liberated from the burden of anticipated nostalgia. Everything that I’m experiencing right now is precious. That dead trunk on the roadside. Those insects that hit my forehead, my glasses and my mouth (giving me violent kisses). The summer air that smells of smoke, animal’s excrements and fresh leaves. This timeless town untouched by the outside world. It will cease to exist as soon as I step on the train that will take me away from it forever. It will hibernate in a corner of my memory.
I’ve found where I belong in this world. I’ve always known the answer, but never quite understood it. Now I do. In my dreams, there’s only one place that I belong to, but it doesn’t have a name, nor a shape. It takes on different shapes in real life, and so I have to constantly move between places. Because dreams can be eternal in their own territory, but will vanish when hit by reality. I only belong to somewhere as long as it remains my dreamland. As long as it doesn’t last. As long as I don’t belong to it.
I listened to that song on a summer night back many years ago, back in my hometown. I listen to it now, and it instantly brings me back to that night. Or rather, it brings that night here. The past and the present fuse together. I time travel. I am one. I am whole. I am here. I am alive. I am infinitely mine.