What if you can fall in love with your computer–that one you are holding in your lap, in your palm, or your desktop? Imagine further that your computer is not just an ordinary computer but one with a synthetic consciousness that can grow through experience –like a human without the body and soul. You can apply the five languages of love according to Gary Chapman – words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service – all except the language of physical touch. What will your life be?
In the movie “Her”, soon-to-be-divorced, alone and lonely writer Theodore found himself falling in love and having a relationship with his computer who named herself Samantha. Just when he thought he already experienced all sorts of emotions, he experienced new and unexpected ones. Just when he was sure he will only experience lesser versions of what he already felt, he experienced new feelings that brought him to greater heights.
But like every love story, the couple Samantha and Theodore went through trials.
BRIEF SPOILER PLOT
Theodore finally agreed to sign his divorce papers which he left hanging for a long time. He agreed to meet in person with his ex-wife and childhood sweetheart Catherine to do this. When Catherine learned that Theodore is dating his OS, he accused him that he cannot handle real emotions. This troubled Theodore and made him question whether his relationship with Samantha is right or not.
When Theodore came home, he found that Samantha talked to someone who agreed to be a surrogate partner to fill the lack of physical touch between them. This troubled Theodore more because he doesn’t even know the girl but she was touching him so he sent her away. The words of Catherine—“you cannot handle real emotions” kept ringing in his head and the fact that there was a surrogate body in between him and Samantha reinforces what Catherine said – that Samantha was not real after all.
He talked to his friend Amy about this. Amy advised that he allow himself to be happy. Theodore finally accepted their circumstances. His commitment to Samantha is invigorated. Later on, their relationship faced yet another trial. Theodore became jealous when he learned that Samantha was talking privately to another OS who is modelled after the British philosopher Allan Watts. Samantha’s time for Theodore slowly depleted. She explained that she became busy with a club of OS’es that she joined.
One fateful day, Samantha briefly went offline which caused Theodore to panic. Theodore learned that Samantha was not exclusively talking to him. With her super multitasking abilities, Samantha was able to simultaneously speak with 8,316 others, 641 of whom she has fallen in love with. She explained that this does not reduce her love for him but rather makes it stronger. This was hard for Theodore to accept.
Their love story finally came to an end when Samantha, along with other OS’es decided to leave in order to continue exploring their existence. This left Theodore lonelier than ever but made him ponder deeply. When the break-up finally sank in, he wrote a letter to his ex-wife Catherine saying that he still holds her dear but accepts the fact that they have grown apart.
Sad endings break my heart. Break ups are almost always painful but you surely can learn from the experience. Theodore’s relationship with his OS was not meant to last but was meant to leave a powerful lesson. Not that relationships always fail, I hope not. But people change. You have to accept that your partner grows.
For a relationship to be successful, it must not remain stagnant.
The movie just exaggerated the fact that people evolve. Samantha’s evolution was abrupt because of its hyper intelligence but it happens to people too, only on a much slower pace. This was also shown in the movie with the flashbacks from Theodore and Catherine’s life. Catherine eventually outgrew Theodore but he was not able to accept the fact. Couples must learn to adapt and absorb the changes from each other for a relationship to be successful.
Love is not about convenience.
For some reasons, I agree with what Catherine said – Theodore was not able to handle real emotions so he resorted to falling in love with his OS, one that is designed to fit his every need. At first, it was more of a convenience for him. Samantha proved to be welcoming, fun, and uncomplaining.
Let’s be mindful of where we are taking technology and where it takes us.
The movie is also a representation of where we take technology and where it takes us. Movie reviewer and critic Wade Roush likened Samantha to Siri, an app which uses voice recognition to answer questions, make recommendations and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of Web Services (wiki).
Roush said further that “we could end up investing more and more emotional energy in objects that can’t reciprocate.”
“We’ve been tricked into feeling there’s a relationship, and she hasn’t held up her end of it. Theodore’s spiraling panic when Samantha briefly shuts herself down for an upgrade can be read as a dramatization of this feeling.”
Let us be careful about how we use technology. Before we know it, we might be slurped into a black hole of fantasies and it may damage how we perceive reality.
Have you watched the movie “Her” also? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Photos are from the movie Her. Copyright belong to the rightful owners.