Thursday, June 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

How Long Should I Wait to Reply?

‘Is romance really THIS dead?’- a question I believe all of us have asked, or possibly screamed at a wall, at some point in our lives. In an age where social media undeniably consumes us it is clear that intimate relationships, both romantic and platonic, have been affected by the internet. Being able to easily contact those we connect with has many positives however when considering intimacy, I would suggest that the internet has done more to hinder deep connections than build them. The internal questioning of ‘how long should I wait to reply?’ ‘Do I seem too keen?’ ‘Which is worse being left on delivered or on read?’ are ever present as we try to figure out what on earth both our friends and potential romantic endeavours are thinking.

Now I am not suggesting that chivalry is dead, but I am sure we can all agree that a snapchat image of a blank wall is in no way endearing. I cannot help but envy my grandparents when they tell me their story, meeting in a pub and conversing with intrigue; leading to over 50 years of marriage rather than ‘could I get your Instagram?’ Although the rise of dating apps and social media has increased digital freedoms and played a significant role in reversing historical gender expectations, in relation to romance, locking eyes with a stranger across a room definitely appeals to me more than a midnight message of ‘you still up?’ Perhaps I am fantasising too much or even being a delusional romantic. Such connections are impossible to form in the modern age and raises a question: will we as a generation be telling nostalgic stories of meeting our life partners through tinder?

Social media has also set unprecedently ambitious standards for relationships and not in a positive way. The unreliability of couples’ Instagram pictures became most apparent to me on my trip to Paris in the summer; a couple had the typical Eiffel Tower proposal and got a cheer out of those around- sweet. However, when the proposer got down on one knee for the THIRD time just to pose for Instagram pictures, I definitely wrote off the idea of Paris as ‘the city of love.’ The constant stream of couples in idyllic relationships on my Tik-Tok for-you page is never ending. Often, I have to remind myself these loved up scenes were probably captured on the seventh take of the video to prevent the strange envy I am sure we all experience.

As a generation we prioritise showing off our relationships rather than holding onto the sentiments of intimate moments; allowing such relationships to become fractured if the ‘instagramable’ expectation is not met. In a platonic sense I often find myself questioning whether I see my close friends enough and if we are meeting the standard that actually defines ‘real’ friends. The fact of the matter is that if someone makes you comfortable and you do them- you are friends. It does not matter if you got a good picture of a day out or if you tell all your followers you met up with that them; it is about the intimacies that we remember and do not show the world that often become the most precious overall. The doubts that often circle our minds when looking at the ‘delivered three hours ago’ should not define what we perceive of a friend or romantic attachment. In reality their phone has died or even crazier they might just have a life that does not involve constant snapchatting.

I am sure we are all guilty of considering these ridiculous questions. However, remembering that Instagram fails to depict the lows of relationships or the small bickers amongst friends grounds me into realising that however long he/she takes to reply or whether a picture accurately shows a friendship really does not matter. As our generation matures I hope to no longer hear or ask myself ‘how long should I wait to reply?’