How to Say "I Love You" in 280 Characters

With the Love Lives Bot coming out last week, I’ve been thinking about love & technology & the ways in which they breathe into one another, share the same hallowed ankles, the same haphazardly-made bed. It sounds like such a contradiction, doesn’t it, that love could exist in the space between programme & screen. It feels sometimes like technology is all neglected children & silence at the dinner table. Like it’s love gone wrong. Love in all the worst ways.

When I think of love I think of dawntime coffee & near-summer light, i think of fingers brushing, peonies, lingering glances, earthside letters. It feels like it should be that way, no? It feels like it should all be very analogue. A lipstick-stained wine glass. A prayer of breath. A sliver of moonlight. Not a character limit, a disappearing Snapchat story, a follower count. Not a swipe left or right.

& yet: here, in this tiny growing robot, a new definition of love. Sometimes, I’m beginning to realise, it’s not gorgeous warmth & whispered confessional, sometimes it’s messy. Sometimes it’s knuckled. Sometimes it’s not seeing red but being left on read. Sometimes it’s not I love you but wait for me, come back, hello again, don’t forget an umbrella, I searched the world for a reason why & all I found was you. Sometimes love is entirely mundane, entirely boring, dog-eared textbooks, chipping nail polish, desperately average blind dates. Sometimes it's watching romance films & rolling your eyes but still going to bed with an ache in your chest that night. Sometimes love isn't I walked into the room & saw you & knew. Sometimes it’s a sunrise instead of a light switch. Sometimes it’s lonely.

& sometimes love can live in a text message. It can live on the end of a phone charger or a phone line. It can live in a missed Facetime call, an early morning Instagram scroll, an inbox with one unread email. It can live in a blurry front-facing camera selfie on a day you feel beautiful.

What the bot is teaching me is that love can be backlit & billowing & tender—but also, love can be in quilting. It can be in idealism. It can be in a wine cellar or a children's book or the worry lines on your grandmother's forehead. Like the best of us, love is so very, keenly alive. It's awake. It's untouchable & unbearable, but also, it's kind, quiet, delicate. It lives in the body, but also, it lives in the cloud. It can be made of both pixel & poetry. & this too holds a truth, doesn't it? Because how could it possibly not?


p.s. the love lives bot is my latest creative project, a piece of digital art for the modern age built of pixels & language & data & want. click here to learn more.

p.s.s. these projects would not be possible without my patreon fireflies, a tight-knit family of readers & creators who financially support my work. click here to join us & learn about the art i'm spinning months before it's released. i'd be so very honoured to have you.