How would Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet have met during the internet era? Would it have been in person, as their eyes met across the dance floor at the Capulet Ball, after he confirmed her location via a foursquare update? Or would he have sent a virtual wink to her BBM, the pin of which he coaxed from a mutual Facebook friend?
In 16th-century Verona, the star-crossed lovers were blamed for being reckless; in the 21st century, their only danger would be the accusation of being anti-social in public, as their thumbs did the talking. Countless hours would be spent sending each other their most flattering, photoshopped images, taken on the beach or a Friday night. These would be complemented with blushing and pouting emoticons and beating hearts.
Juliet’s Facebook status updates would reflect an acute case of infatuation. She would post a YouTube video of Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’ on her wall. Her friends would comment: “So, who’s the lucky guy? <3” Her nurse—these days, her life coach—would share a photograph, using instagram, of a sports brand billboard encouraging her to: “Just do it!”
Romeo’s workout video to LMFAO’s ‘Sexy And I Know It’ would be posted on YouTube, in an attempt to impress his new love. It would go viral within a few days. He would have to be fit for the secret balcony rendezvous: he would have to jump her wall and give the security guards the slip.
Meanwhile, lying on her bed, Juliet would use her notebook to dote on her lover’s talents in his flickr albums. While browsing through his professional expertise on LinkedIn, she would receive a BBM text saying, ‘Meet me on your balcony in 10.’ He would be heartbroken about being unable to tag himself “—with Juliet ‘Jules’ Capulet” in his Facebook status. To keep it secret, Romeo would open another Facebook account, with a red Ferrari as his profile picture, under the alias, Italian Stallion. He would use this new profile to stalk her wall and compare himself to photographs of her previous boyfriends.
Tybalt, Juliet’s protective cousin, infuriated with Romeo for sneaking into the Capulet Ball, would challenge him to a duel through Google chat. Romeo would decline, and Mercutio—his right-hand man—would accept the challenge on behalf of the Montagues. It would end in Mercutio’s death. In his final moments, while clutching at his chest, Mercutio would tweet @RoMeo, @JCapulet13 ‘A plague upon both your houses #caughtinthecrossfire.’ He might be re-tweeted by someone caught in the I’m-doing-this-because-everyone-else-is-doing-it sharing trend. Romeo would avenge Mercutio’s death by killing Tybalt. #TybaltRIP. Please retweet!
Lord Capulet would discover the love affair through the iCloud application, which would indicate that Juliet was at the Montague estate. Upon her return, a row would ensue. In a tantrum she would leave to meet Friar Laurence, the spiritual healer slash yoga instructor. He would Google search the name of the best sedative to help her feign death in an attempt to escape a proposed marriage with Paris. He would shun the messenger—who in the original story fails to deliver the message, resulting in Romeo’s suicide—in favor of multiple social media alternatives, in case Romeo’s cellphone were to go through to voicemail.
The friar would spare Paris’ life. While mourning at the Capulet burial crypt, the friar would divert Paris’ attention from Romeo’s presence with his new tablet. “What can’t you do with it?” Paris would ask, as Romeo slipped past to prevent confrontation. While Shakespeare would still be credited for penning the world’s greatest love story ever told, with the help of social media the story would end differently. The lovers’ tragic double suicide would be avoided, hence Shakespeare would have saved the lives of three young people. It would no longer be “a story of more woe” as the happy couple would elope after booking a room in Las Vegas via booking.com. They would, however, have to remember not to ‘Facebook check in’ their location.
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