Long gone is the love laced in handwritten letters. The dating apocalypse has dawned the earth and the once softly romantic gesture of face to face contact has been obliterated like flip phones. Gone are the days of suits and ties and gentlemen ringing the doorbells of their dates’ door, and even further removed from modern romance is the art of courtship. There used to be an ethereal layer of ethics in dating. Dating developed out of the pure and deep intentions of courtship — the desire to find eternity in a lover and a friend. Now, iPhones in hand, dating is a one-stop quick hop to lustful sexuality, the loss of personal intimacy and the decay of deliberate romance.
The millennial generation is forced to assimilate the tools of technology with the human hunger for deep relationships. Traditional gestures of displaying one’s romantic interest required picking up a telephone (perhaps a landline) and asking someone on a date in real time, with real words and real strength. Such a gesture requires bravery in light of possible live rejection, tactical planning and an investment of pride. Now, with gross accessibility of technology, one no longer has to leave the bed to find a possible suitor, for we can live behind an online façade of fortune, fame, and even happiness. In instant messages, tweets, texts, one can script and edit oneself, and the necessity for human charm, emotion and personality is lost between the LED iPhone screen and the human hands behind it.
There is irony in the disconnect of technology that is intended to connect. In one common way to lust for love — online dating — the very essence of genuine, divinely oriented, magical infatuation is lost in the lies written on the web. For, technology can be more damaging and damning than heartbreak itself.
There is nothing romantic about a vibrating phone and a series of emoji’s as evidence of “effort” in relationships. We are now hybrids, digital natives who are no longer entirely human, but partially electronic and without humanity in amorousness. Technology has ridden of the randomness in romance. It’s too easy to know someone’s location through a Snapchat story, what they’re feeling through their Tweets, or who they’re with through their Instagrams. For once, we know too much.
In a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens claim they go online daily, while 24 percent of these tech-users say they are online “almost constantly.” In this routine of ‘plugging in,’ millennials are interacting so constantly with one another on social networks and phones that we are growing less personal with face-to-face interaction and social skills necessary as a student, leader and professional.
According to The Washington Post, today’s teens spend more than seven and a half hours a day consuming media. Studies by the Post also show a notable rise in time spent on mobile devices and a wholesome increase of about an hour and 20 minutes since 1999. The Pew Internet and Life Project research shows more than three-quarters of all American teenagers own cell phones, which is an increase from the 45 percent of teens who owned cellular devices back in 2004. If in a matter of eleven years, the use of technology can increase by 30 percent, in the next eleven, humanity will be 105 percent, entirely engulfed by media.
Unlike prior generations, the millennial generation can interact with peers, romantic interests, and even strangers without their exchanges being seen or heard. Only 12 percent of teens in the United States have no cell phone or engagement with social media, according to The New York Times. So how are the 12 percent who are technologically inept and free to interact with a new society so indulgently addicted to virtual realities? Not even the youngest children of a coming generation are free from the accessibility of modern media. Already 38 percent of children under age two have used a mobile device, according to Common Sense Media. Perhaps the children of the millennial generation will consider iPads ‘friends’ and online chatrooms
According to Pew Research Center, when Match.com launched in 1995, only 14 percent of American adults were internet users. Today, approximately nine out of ten Americans are online, and actively present in the virtual dating world. While 66 percent of people who use online dating applications go on dates with those they’ve connected with virtually, 78 percent of these daters felt deceived by the appearance or profile of their suspected love interest. Additionally, according to Business Insider, 30 percent of Tinder users are married and up to 71 percent of female dating site users claim they have felt harassed or uncomfortable by those they encountered in the vortex or virtual romance.
In a ‘technosexual’ generation, the act of dating has been sexualized while emotionality has been erased. We must hunger for a taste of personable, intentional interaction, or before we know it, marriage will be an online game on Facebook like Farmville. Perhaps if there were Valentine’s days no more, romanticism could be deeply buried and laid to rest — without roses of course.
Dating is daunted by deeply-rooted casualization. Now, with an uploading of photos, 200 spaces biography, and editable age, one can set oneself up to be matched and mated with a stranger near or far. Modern millennial college students are using Tinder, Pure, Bang With Friends, Grindr, Coffee Meets Bagel, Date My School, OkCupid, IvyDate, Bumble and Skout to seek out potential partners.
The Harvard Crimson reports that one in five Harvard students use IvyDate, while 60 percent of dates at Columbia University and New York University are arranged through DateMySchool. The University of California at Santa Barbara’s studies report that college students are more likely than any other age to use applications and sites like PlentyofFish and Hinge. And, why? Perhaps it is the enchanting and startling feature of freedom that accompanies college life. Within this liberty however, comes a steep reliance on technology to establish human relations for us.
Instead of the classic ‘dinner and a movie’ rendezvous, Facebook messages and mass Snapchats and other forms of ‘non-dates’ are creating a romantically confused generation incapable of establishing fruitful relationships. Perhaps if we looked up from our devices, we would grow more comfortable with human interaction.
Nowadays, college students can practically major in online stalking, but barely minor in the basic skill of maintaining eye contact with another individual. The traditional values instilled in dating have darted off far, far away. Buried are the days my mother lay on the floor of her Fischer dorm glued to her wall-phone, intertwined in hours of conversation with who would soon be her beloved partner – a young gentleman a floor below in his Fischer dorm – my father.
Now, I sit in my Fischer dorm room, no wall phone in sight, but iPhone in hand. As I consider the likelihood that I may make eye contact with my future spouse if I set my phone down and actually look up, I am reminded of the technology-less first date my parents embarked upon as nervous, twitchy college freshmen.
Seek intentionality. Make eye contact. Wait for the one who proves their courage, care and capability with a human, face-to-face gesture of desire.
Long gone is the love laced in handwritten letters. Let your phone die, your heart long for, and your courage to be radiant. Good riddance to the death of courtship – for at any point in time, someone may inspire your faith in old fashioned young love, you just have to look up.
Feature photo credit: Ed Gregory