When we say we want love, what are we exactly talking about? Is it someone who will be by our side as we enjoy life’s greatest moments? Or is it a person who will be holding the selfie stick as we document our life’s “greatest moments”? Is there a chance that technology has made it harder to decipher what being in love means or feels like?
A few years back, people blamed romantic comedies and TV shows for giving people inaccurate expectations regarding romance. But now, as we swipe left or right when choosing a possible partner, is it possible that we are creating a virtual reality where we take the romance out of the equation and turn it into simple math?
Yes, I’m comparing apps like Tinder to math. After all, we start by the profile image that appears on the screen with the subject’s name, age, and occupation. That’s at least 30% of the grade. If we approve of this first stage, we go into the blurb. Let’s say this counts for 30% as well. Is it funny? Is it cringy? Then we go for the other pictures. If there’s only the profile picture posted, the subject is eliminated. If the pictures don’t include a mirror selfie, or the dude on a horse or tiger, he wins the next 30%. The remaining 10% is left in case you are matched to say yay or nay, depending on how funny or hot his texts are.
How is this in any way related to our feelings? We can’t even claim it’s about physical attraction because we’re looking at a picture taken with all the intent to “sell” us something. There’s a difference between being attracted to someone we are actually seeing in person to one who’s advertising themselves to us on an online platform.
Something occurs in our minds that we stop treating this person like we would treat any other human connection in our life. We objectify them, and they wind up doing the same to us. Perhaps we didn’t mean to do that.
But think about it: there are suggestions for your picture, blurb, and other elements that will ensure you get a substantial percentage of people choosing you. We’re essentially learning how to promote ourselves in the model of supply and demand. We’ve stopped making this about human connection and turned it into ego.
Michele Abeles is a photographer from Brooklyn, NY who creates photomontages of still life and human models. She finds the male models on Craigslist and other similar sites, and then proceeds to place random body parts mixed in with plants, wine, bottles, and random objects. The faces never appear because she says she wants to give them the same weight in the picture as the other props that appear.
Her inspiration for these images came from the way people interact with photographs they see on a screen, as well as the swiping method on a Smartphone. The art depicted in this article was created between 2009 and 2012, yet it seems even more fitting now that we swipe left or right when choosing a stranger to go have a drink with.
It’s not that we don’t believe in love. We’ve just converted it into something we can acquire if we have the right tools. We’re no longer hoping for a moment that looks like the end of a movie starring Chris Evans and Emma Stone, where the male lead says something clever but really sweet and the female lead is looking angry with her arms crossed but ends up smiling, and forgives him. That is not longer our ultimate hope. We’re scanning people’s bios and Facebook CVs before even saying hello. Essentially we’re preselecting possible crushes based on what our brains are saying. I don’t know about you, but when I think about it like that, it’s actually pretty scary. Or sad.
So if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, what is it we’re really looking for? A real connection or an algorithm that we’ll tell ourselves is the same thing?