It Was Virtual: Frank Ocean’s “Facebook Story”
It’s 1:43 AM. I should have been asleep two hours ago because I have a 9 AM class tomorrow, but here I am, back on his Twitter feed. My skin irradiates from the strain of the blue light on my phone screen, the only source of light in the late-night darkness of my shared room, where my roommate is asleep five feet from me. I am awake, still, deciphering this peculiar combination of 140 characters. Wondering what this tweet means. Wondering if it is about me. Or, arguably even worse: if it’s about someone else.
On Frank Ocean’s “Facebook Story,” a Frenchman talks about his girlfriend of three years who sends him a friend request on Facebook: “It was virtual, means no sense.” Adding, “I’m in front of you, I don’t need to accept you on Facebook.” The girlfriend goes on to say that she thought he was cheating, a claim based solely on the fact that he won’t accept her on Facebook. Strangely, it’s not hard to empathize with the girlfriend in question. Like, of course that motherfucker is hiding something, why else won’t he won’t accept her? Who doesn’t have their significant other as a friend on Facebook? But, on the other hand, I can see the way social media has, in so many ways, screwed up our perception of a healthy relationship. Of love! Minutes stretched into long hours as I scrolled through the night looking over my last romantic partner’s tweets; there were a few days when we communicated only through subtweets, refusing to confront each other and talk about our feelings. What does this mean? Why can’t we access the part of us that can actually talk about what we were actually experiencing emotionally?! This anecdotal song sits with me, that last line, “It was pure jealousy” rings in my ears.
In my eyes, we (myself included, yes) have gotten so far from raw, organic Love–love with a capital T! We have gotten so far from confronting our feelings in person. I sat in class yesterday and the boy sitting next to mentioned that a Tinder match added him on LinkedIn. What the fuck was that about? We go on our phones, we edit a picture of ourself, we post it onto this app where we can immediately judge people’s physicality, match with them, and engage in a conversation that could lead to a hook-up, love, marriage, friendship, or the opposite of all of these. This is the GMO of Love, and I want to go back to some organic shit! Please don’t hate me esteemed reader, or accuse me of being a cheesy asshole, I am as guilty of the digital variation of love as the next guy. I just don’t know if it’s fulfilling anymore. We’re losing the ability to be straightforward–to make the first move not over text but straight to someone’s face. To ask someone out not behind a screen but by genuinely telling them that we’re interested, that we want to be with them. When did we equate an exchange of emojis to an exchange of actual loving glances?
Shit takes time. Love takes time. Specifically, the slow, unprocessed-food version of love takes time. This album took four years. Frank reminds us that sometimes good things are worth waiting for–whether that’s a real in-person connection, or a banging album.
Siya Bahal is a writer, hustler, and full-time consumer of tea. You can find her finessing and doing other things on the internet here.