Segmentation Fault (CORE DUMPED)
I spent my Friday afternoon looking at the old texts I sent to my lovesick friends. I had a programming lab that I didn’t want to do just yet, and digging up online memories has been my favorite form of procrastination this year.
It’s a weird thing — poets, musicians, authors, and others have considered love to be a very abstract emotion. They sing and write about the butterflies in their stomach or the confusion they feel over lonely nights. They talk about the plethora of feelings and how they can move mountains whenever they see a certain person’s face. Yet I approached my friends’ inquiries with simple, rigid logic. “You already texted him first two times today, so you should wait until he’s texted you first at least two times, too.” “You have to count the opportunity cost of a date with a sub-par guy in downtown Seattle.” “So he texted you at 2:59 PM? If you really want him, reply to him in 15 minutes, otherwise, wait for 45.” It’s how my brain naturally works, considering that I’m a computer science major. I eat zeros and ones for breakfast. Of course I’d spit zeros and ones to my fellow human beings.
A friend of mine once said that all advice is futile. Human beings tend to pick and choose what rings true to them. Sometimes my friends listen and sometimes not. I also feel a self-conscious hesitancy to my own advice, adding that extra “I don’t know, though” at the end of each of them. I am not emotionally invested in my own relationship advice, which is the same kind of attitude I have with my code and scripts. However, my friends are the opposite. I would look at them looking at their object of affection with such longing and desire, reading every text that goes like “Oh my God, I love her so much” or “I just want to be in his arms”. Sometimes I would squee a little. Sometimes I just stare at them with apathy, my consciousness set to null.
Either way, I don’t know what they’re exactly feeling. Mostly because I have never felt the feelings they’ve felt. When I was young, I thought love came to you at a certain age, like puberty. Growing up, that’s how the plot of all teen movies goes; you’re supposed to get your first boyfriend sometime during high school. I thought that high of a first kiss is a rite of passage set during a fixed time in your life, like Bar Mitzvah or your first communion, and after that, you are allowed to explore more romantic intricacies of an increasing complexity. Now I barely think about it. Instead, my mind is doused with things like planning what I have in my closet to match the business casual dress code of the engineering career fair this month, or should I use recursive properties to get my program function to spit out the answer I want. Rather than spending my time listing personality traits to create an unrealistic expectation of an ideal partner, I spend my time listing personality traits needed for an AI to take over modern human civilization.
Do I care a lot about finding someone? No.
Am I in a rush? I don’t think so.
But sometimes, I feel lonely too.
My peers keep commenting on the fact that I keep missing the chance to meet new people because I was too busy reading textbooks and doing my assignments. Here I am, revising my resume in preparation to sell my soul to capitalism, while they are out getting free food from someone they met online who could possibly be the person who will stand by them until they die. Sometimes the humming yellow lamps of the Engineering Library can feel isolating, especially on a Saturday night.
I stared at the assignment sheet for my programming lab. Computers don’t feel lonely. They sit there and wait for someone to press a button, and then they will churn out an output. The waiting doesn’t get boring for them. In between the keystrokes, they are void of feelings. If you define the word “wait” to be interlaced with longing, computers never wait for someone else. That’s when I realized that the only thing separating us humans from computers is the fact that we are in constant need of each other’s company.
So please, someone, send me a sign. Come be by my side, before the AI takes over.
Patricia K. is an Indonesian computer science student with an affinity towards writing and literature. She currently resides in New York and is perplexed about it all. She spends her Wednesday nights copyediting for a college newspaper and her Saturday afternoons exploiting her student ID benefits by visiting museums with no charge. You can contact her through her email at email@example.com.