Bámbel

Are we talking about the end of love while being more obsessed than ever with loving?

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942 | Marjory Collins, Library of Congress | Public domain

Lying in bed, mobile in hand, Andrea Abreu talks with herself about love and relationships in times of social media. The precariousness of bonds, the need for validation, post-romanticism, ghosting and anxiety intertwine in this story both erratic and lucid.

In the close, lukewarm night of my room, I laugh, checking the appearance of my good side profile. Today is another one of those days when I pretend there’s someone looking at me from the other side of the mattress. What a coincidence that I like to sleep on the side of the bed that makes me look best, I think, and I say heck, I’m sure he loves it that I’m reading, I’d find it really cute if someone were reading to me before bed. I turn to the bedside table and put the book on the huge pile that it’s going to take me at least another two years to get through. Through the corner of my eye, I notice, startled: all the cushions are in the right place, lined neatly up, as if no one had ever slept in the bed before, not even me. The soy candles I lit have just been blown out and everything smells like a birthday party. There is no one, my child, and I say my child because I’ve discovered that it’s very good to talk to yourself like you would to a loved one, to improve the internal dialogue. I don’t feel any breathing, except for my own, and I put my fingers to my neck to check whether I have tachycardia. You’re dumb and your mother doesn’t know it, I say to myself, and I answer myself, no, you’re not dumb, my love, you’re brighter than a firebrand.

I grab my mobile from the bedside table and do a quick swipe of about fifty people without breathing, like doing squats: up-down, up-down, up-down, exercise of the crushed soul. The more people, the more massive destruction of my spirit. More glute routines, more boxes of melatonin, more vegan omega 3. I don’t use Bámbel to fall in love, not even to get lucky; I use Bámbel to make sure I still exist. I’m that stupid dog that goes up to its owner when he’s working and begs him to throw the ball only to grab it and take it back to a corner and chew it until the leather comes off. I’m that dog that won’t bring the ball back to you, but every now and then needs to check that if I give it to you, you’ll be willing to throw it.

[23:42, 14/11/2022] My Personal Number: do they know in cognitive behavioural psychology about momentary relief from anxiety? I have more and more doubts about pure cognitive behavioural psychology, but I’m sure that bambel has often brought absolute momentary relief of my anxiety, before assessing whether the intrusive thoughts about my dubious personal worth were true or not, I would go directly to the social network and get about twenty matches, and then I felt calm, ah well if that Winstrol-pumped German who could perfectly well be on Love Island and who’s comes to play at digital nomad in an absolutely impoverished community like mine thinks that my five carefully selected photos are worthy of a like then I’m fine, I’m fine, that’s fine, yes fine, we can carry on until the next time I need a quick validation, which could be tonight or tomorrow morning I don’t know, but if there’s one thing about the momentary relief of anxiety it’s precisely the fact that it’s temporary, at a micro level, in the moment, they dampen our discomfort, but the consequences over time are worse: not using bambel to relieve anxiety may be uncomfortable for me now, but in the long run it will be better for my head, using it now gives me the false feeling of being accompanied, of alleviating my anguish and my loneliness, but over time it makes the hole of my illness more complete and deeper.

[23:57, 14/11/2022] My Personal Number: How much grief can I live through in one sitting? In a single month? a single week? I don’t know? You tell me. Spit it out. Come on, You tell me that you like me that we should be a couple that we should live together later on. For you I gave up polyamory and we build a hierarchical romantic story my love. We do wonderful LOVE bombing and suddenly you start answering me every three hours. Am I supposed to read the distances between messages? What the fuck is wrong with us? we can’t decide to live together and then turn into a chat with no photo, into an anonymous grey blotch with an even greyer circle around it.

[23:59, 14/11/2022] My Personal Number: Every now and then I think: agaaaaain.

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942 | Marjory Collins, Library of Congress | Public domain

[00:00, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: This was a Bauman quote

[00:10, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Frailty of human bonds is a prominent, indeed the defining attribute of liquid modern life. The blatant fissiparousness of human bonds and the frequency with which they are broken serves as a constant reminder of the mortality of human life. There is little point in questioning the validity of equating the loss of a partner due to separation with the ‘truly final’ loss caused by physical death; what counts, is that in both cases ‘a world’, each time ‘unique’, vanishes – and that either the will or hope are missing to challenge, let alone reverse, the finality of its disappearance.

The vanishing of a companion-in-life may be but a metaphor of Jankélévitch’s ‘thou-death’, but it is a metaphor that tends to be hardly distinguishable from what it stands for. And so is the aftermath of the break-up, devoted to weaving new ties, admittedly destined to be cut again just the past bonds were. Death-by-proxy becomes an indispensable and constant link holding together the interminable sequence of ‘new beginnings’ and efforts to be ‘born again’, those characteristic features of liquid modern life, and a necessary stage in each one of the infinitely long series of the ‘dying-being-reborn-dying’ cycles. In the ongoing drama of liquid modern life, death is one of the principal characters in the cast, reappearing in every act (Liquid Fear, Zygmunt Bauman).

[00:12, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Wwe all joined as part of a social experiment. All my girlfriends became single at the same time, when covid eased off, couples that had been together for years fell apart. We were going to take on the world, and we ended up taking on four pricks and twenty anxiety attacks. They all went on dating apps for the same reason I did: to see what would happen. Then we started like come on, let’s meet up with idiots that ghost us and I hope the condom’s breathtakingly tight, damn it. God, my freelancer’s fee takes my breath away but I pay it, man, I pay it. What kind of a world is this? Nobody told me to stick my nose in, it was all Eva Ilouz’s fault.

[00:12, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: I joined bumble because I wanted to understand what Eva illouz meant when she talked so negatively about dating apps, it was all because of a paragraph where she referred to the contemporary sexual market as a supermarket where there’s too much supply and so it’s difficult to estimate the value of a product.

[00:12, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: She was talking about something tht I interpreted as a fast supermarket product test and she said it like it was something noxious and I thought: ah, you can do a free fast supermarket product test? That’s for me. And I downloaded the app. People moving under my finger like a barcode scanner over courgettes without a bag after the shop assistant tells me off for not wearing gloves. Hey, lady, plastic is a serious problem! Either get rid of the bags or I stick my fingers through the papaya until I get the juice out of it, god…….

[00:12, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: can I use a quote? Yes I can

[00:15, 11/15/2022] My Personal Number: Pre-modern romantic evaluators chose as if they were in an auction house because they operated in conditions of scarcity. Modern sexual and romantic evaluators choose as if they are in the supermarket and lack a clear reference point of their choice, not knowing what they want. The insertion of romantic and sexual practices in the consumer market leads then to a deflation of worth. Because sexual actors meet in a market situation, these actors face what we may call emotional deflation, much like economic mechanisms of deflation, the fact that the overall price or worth of goods falls either because competition brings down prices or because greater efficiency diminishes the costs of production. (The End of Love. A Sociology of Negative Relationships, Eva Illouz).

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942 | Marjory Collins, Library of Congress | Public domain

[00:24, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: I started as a social experiment and ended up crying for a man much younger than me. He was a beautiful man, almost unreal. The difference between me and that man was that he still believed in something. He was in love with his exgirlfriend but he couldn’t bring himself to tell me. I told him please don’t play mobile games if we were seeing each other. We saw each other three times and he got bored of me. He wasn’t seriously interested in me, but every time I got the impression that talking was a problem. Every time someone has ghosted me it happened after I had opened my mouth to say something other than the potatoes are so good, your cock is so good. I’ve made monumental efforts not to seem too much like me and I’ve worn super-tiny shoes that are called a scared version of myself. He was in love with his exgirlfriend. And I’m in love with Alpro coconut yoghurt. Everyone has their own needs and tastes and I wasn’t on his list. I got upset. I got so upset that I started to send him messages shouting (because they were written in capital letters): COWARD, DON’T GHOST ME! He told me to please stop talking to him and I kept shouting, poor guy

[00:24, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: what’s wrong with me, you nut?

[00:25, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Panic! I feel panic about ghosting. And haunting and love bombing and extra virgin olive oil. panic, I feel panic about me

[00:25, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Me?

[00:25, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Me

[00:26, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: I saw Héctor bellerin in a picture with a beret and I went on bumble to see if I could find someone similar. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me. I also rewatched High School Musical 2 and went on bumble to see if I saw anyone who looked like Chad. The worst thing is that there was someone who looked like him, but I didn’t get a match. I think the world is set up right now to take Héctor bellerin away from us. Nobody told us directly but everything says: love him, Héctor bellerin, bellerin-rin-rin- rin ring? Bellerin, he’s a man, look at him, but he looks like something that’s not a man, look at him, he’s vegan and he has a mullet.

[00:30, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Why should I love him, sir? Why should I?

[00:31, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Look at him, he’s wearing a tracksuit and a dress shirt, love him and I love him and I understand why people send messages that go unanswered for months.

[00:32, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Bellerin check your inbox

[00:32, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Me, I don’t think I love I just think I get hooked sporadically on people with avoidant behaviours.

[00:33, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Me, I… I’m literal

[00:33, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Hello?

[00:33, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: I’ve had it up to here with myself

[00:34, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: No, andre, my love, I love you

[00:34, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: behave my love

[00:34, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: I love you my love

[00:35, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: fake it until you make it bitch

[00:37, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Me, it’s my fault it’s all my fault that’s why I’m praying to god. ENOOOUUUGH BITCH

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942 | Marjory Collins, Library of Congress | Public domain

[00:41, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: One of your eyelids is lower than the other, my father told me looking at my face last week. I have a lazy eye????, I screamed like a madwoman spitting out the smoked tofu from lidl. Aaaaaaaaaah (fit of impending rage), a lazy eye, me? Bloody shitballs!!!!!!! It cost me two days of therapy for a total of 130 euros. I had to change one of my bAMBEL pictures. I don’t know if you read the book zeno’s conscience, iin the book the wife tells him that his nose is different from the way seno thought it was and that makes him change how he perceives himself, a real existential crisis. I wonder how we can live without worry when we’re continually self-represented and fragmented. I don’t know about you but I don’t stop looking at myself everywhere. I love the body, I love the existence of a body but sometimes I just want to be a ball of fire that floats, you know what I mean? A ball that floats and rises up until it breaks away from the earth and the roof and doesn’t care that there’s no roof and doesn’t care about anything. I’m absolutely obsessed with my physical appearance and I keep looking at myself in mirrors everywhere I go.

[00:43, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: We have an quote for this? We do

[01:05, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: […] ‘my degree of beauty’ is linked to ‘the chances of someone falling in love with me’, or ‘the chances I have of getting what I want’, or ‘the chances of the person I’m with not leaving me for someone sexier than myself’, but the solidity of the link between ‘my appearance’ and ‘my chances of being loved/getting married/being in a relationship’ varies according to the social system. And in our society there is a very strong link, perhaps the strongest in world history, between the variables of ‘being good looking’ and ‘being loved’ (Inside The Hall of Mirrors, Liv Strömquist).

[01:06, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: reallygreat 😊

[01:08, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: ok, pops, I have a lazy eye I have less chance of being loved so what do I do? Should I jam something under my eyelid so my eye stays open all night? What should I do lord God almighty? What should I do if they taught us that we’re not worthy of love if we’re ugly. Someone taught us this and here I am spending money to mentally unlearn something and keep doing things to my body to look good.

[01:10, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Why do we always feel anxious when we meet someone? I shouted a few days ago to my friend Usu again. Why? please explain it to me. And she says Andre I already told you why and I don’t remember what she said again. I strain my head to remember , usu? what did you say to me? it’s the mystery of bambel anxiety that I want to decipher, I need truths, phrases out of sociology books to hold on to because I refuse to think that this is an individual problem like those stupid people who’ve been in a relationship for ten years and dare to tell us that we’re stuck in a rut and we’re looking for people who ghosts us. Shut up, you vile thing, shut up, you don’t know anything, it’s easy to forget all about this when you have validation on the other side of the bed and you can’t even remember what this was, because this isn’t what it used to be, meeting people has become more of a horror story than ever in the history of meeting people.

[01:10, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: It’s not me, it’s not you, it’s a fucking structural problem and continuing to bear the load with our unstable individual mental health (which is also a structural problem) means continuing to smash the bonds between people and leaves us absolutely alone in the face of the brutally violent impact on a human body and mind of living and dying for love as if nothing mattered at all.

[01:12, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: After all that I’ve read and learned and reflected on, I’ve continued to bust myself up against every person I’ve met in the last few months, each time falling into inexplicable anguish, a sense of disorientation that made me fall back cyclically into neglecting my health, the hypervigilance of my body, the bloody inner dialogue.

[01:14, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Aaaaaall the time swinging between the most romantic and the most post-romantic ideas, trying to survive in this historical moment in which we don’t even know what we’re doing because we’ve destroyed all the frames of reference and what we had before was bad but this is also tremendously shit my friend

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942

Senior prom. Maryland, 1942 | Marjory Collins, Library of Congress | Public domain

[01:22, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: So? I flow between extreme idealisation and utter contempt I go from 1. I look at him and I think fuck me all I want a baby two three four babies a car a moises a house a vegetable garden damn hippy kids crawling on the floor like snails and wipe their snot I want a vegetable garden I want a classic love-passion, old-school, accommodating, and bang me like a rabbit and destroy us to absorb us forever until the end of time and love you until after you die because like Romeo says before love was invented I already loved you, but no. Then no, then 2. I pull myself away and think that it’s all a story and that what I want is to feel good about myself my space my life my things, not to depend on anyone. And I end up profoundly helpless and uprooted lost at the end of love and in the moment of post-romanticism, defeated and clinging to post-romanticism, I even feel sorry and I hug her, my girl.

[01:24, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Andre x Postromanticism.

[01:25, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Is this the end of love? If so why are we all so desperate to love? We’re talking about the end of love and we’re more obsessed than ever with loving? what is this? Do I have an attention deficit disorder? a personality disorder?

[01:26, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Will I get my period?

[01:29, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Yesterday I asked my friend Carmen if she thought that you can choose to love and she said yes, you can choose whether to fall in love or not and I shouted no like a crazy person, no, then when I got home I thought yes, she’s right that if it’s not worth it I don’t fall in love and every day I think about it less and less to tell the truth.

[01:30, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: Sometimes I think I really don’t care about anyone, does that happen to you?

[01:30, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: My heart is anaesthetised………

[01:32, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: I didn’t want this, but the world is becoming more and more like bambel and bambel is becoming more and more like the world in the sense that the world is stupid and bambel is stupid.

[01:40, 15/11/2022] My Personal Number: I wanted to get away from romantic structures, I wanted to learn to love myself and now in the adult world I only know how to do my nightly facial cleansing routine (I’m not even sure if I do it right) and that it’s better to get petrol at this petrol station than at that one because they give me points on my loyalty card… I wanted to do things right, but I don’t know what right is anymore and even if I uninstall bambel and you uninstall it and even if I uninstall Instagram and you uninstall Instagram and tik tok and bereal I feel, deep down inside my heart full of bandaids I feel that the way we love is deeply and irreversibly pierced by disenchantment 😊😊😊

I put my mobile on the bedside table. In the stifling gloom of my room, I think about smoking the CBD joint in my dresser drawer. Instead, I pick up the phone again, take one last look through Bámbel and come to the edge of the ravine. I stare into the emptiness of the abyss: there’s no one left to classify into desirable and undesirable in this corner of the world. I think about taking my mobile out of the room, but inadvertently fall asleep with the screen unlocked on my chest.

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