• Syntactical

Staying Present in a World Gone Digital

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

I don’t like Valentine’s Day. A brave statement, I know. I have been with my better half for four years. I love him every day. Not all day, every day. (When he leaves his black woollen socks in a random corner of a room, just after I’ve tidied, he is quite hard to love.)

But the rebellious side of me doesn’t want to acknowledge our love on February 14th. We use the commercialised holiday as an excuse to ignore each other. I do acknowledge, though, that some people look forward to the day.

This year, the day before Valentine’s, I bumped into an elderly gentleman in a jewellery shop. He was purchasing a majestic amber pendant for his wife of forty-something years.

I didn’t pay much attention to him. I went back to scrolling through my Instagram, perusing the lives of people I didn’t know, and probably never would.

Then, I overheard this gentleman having a conversation with a member of staff, proudly exclaiming ‘I’ve been with my wife since the seventies.’

I put my phone back in my bag and decided to ask him how they met.

‘At a dance!’ he answered. ‘We boogied the night away to Elvis Presley. After a couple of hours, we were in a corridor chatting when a drunken man bumped into her. I was quite into boxing in those days, so I knocked him out. She wasn’t impressed and decided to ignore me for the next eighteen months. But I didn’t give up, and she eventually forgave me. We got married a couple of years later.’

I asked him if they still danced.

‘Yes, but I’m sure she’d rather be dancing with a different man by this point,’ he responded with an endearing grin.

I walked away from that conversation with a smile on my face, a happy heart, and a newfound respect for Valentine's Day. But I almost missed the chance to feel that way. I was too engrossed by social media to be present in my life, in the moment.

Don't get me wrong here. I'm not a naysayer. Social media is so important. Used in the right way, it’s a tool for connection and innovation. It brings people together. But used in the wrong way? I believe that it can breed isolation.

At Syntactical, we are making it our mission to create exciting content that gets people communicating. We all, at one time or another, fall down the rabbit hole of social media, mindlessly scrolling without engaging. In those moments when we have disconnected from reality, let us try to take a breath. Let us try to remember that elderly gentleman.

He’s been buying his wife a Valentine’s Day gift, every year, since long before Instagram existed.

All the best,