Falling in love has been negatively affected by social media and other forms of technology.
More than once, we've heard our elders say that love is not how it used to be, that youngsters don’t know how to build up healthy long-lasting relationships. And as much as we hate to listen to those words during every family gathering, we have to admit it: they’re absolutely right. But this is not the youngsters' fault, nor the elders'. Currently, the millennial generation has been said to be full of people that don’t take relationships seriously, incapable of truly falling in love, and so dependent on their cellphones that they fail to connect with anyone, even if it’s not in a romantic way.
This exact thing happened to my little brother last week. After some meeting a guy at a party, he thought everything might go well, but his crush took forever to reply to his Snapchat pictures. Because of this, he got to wondering whether he was doing something wrong. I suggested a more personal phone call, rather than just start conversations out of snaps. He looked at me as if I suggested he give the guy an engagement ring and responded: "What? And what do I say? Do I just breathe over the phone and hope something comes up?" At that point I realized the importance of social skills when it comes to love, and how technology has transformed people in a way that many feel they're incapable of having a personal and real human bond.
That's when it hit me: the way we fall in love is never the same. Since humanity is constantly evolving, social conventions do the same, including romantic rules to dating. In a way, this has to do with how technology has affected human interaction overall. Because of this, as new gadgets and trends are being developed, new ways of falling in love emerge. Surely, this is a double-edged sword. On the one side, the benefits of technology applied to dating have opened up a world of possibilities for everyone. And that’s pretty amazing. But it has also created a comfort zone. Now you feel the need to flirt and create a bond through memes, nudes, and a lot of texting, because standing in front of your crush and not having resources to make someone laugh or create a genuine conversation seems too scary.
This particular phenomenon is happening as we speak, and it's happening a lot, to the point that not only parents wonder if their kids connect with people without technology at all. Teachers in schools are also concerned about their students and that's why at Beaver Country Day School in Boston, professor Matthew Lippman thought to address the issue in a very dynamic way. Lippman has taught entire courses on love and relationships throughout the years, and during one of his American Literature lessons, he decided to launch into a discussion about love songs.
Asking the kids about their favorite love songs was pretty predictable. any given Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift tune was the ideal track for love, according to them. When it was the teacher's turn to give a personal example, students felt like dying of boredom. "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack came up, and the classroom felt it was so slow and mellow, they didn't even care what the ballad was about.
"It's showing that love takes time, that it's not something that you rush into," explains Joddy Nwankwo, stating that today's culture of high-speed everything also rushes love and leaves no room for patience in this matter. And he's right. Millennials live in a world where technology changes so quickly that the urge of keeping up becomes a necessity. This means adopting a lifestyle where everything speeds up, even love. Finding someone to love in such rush leads to quickly falling into boredom too and feeling the need of meeting someone else in no time. This way, there's no time to get to know someone and truly fall for them.
Black mirrors, such as cellphones, laptops, and other mobile devices have made life easier in this matter. This way, you don’t have to face reality the way we all did before, so you can rush into it without even noticing it. Social Media has become something so big it's affecting our lives more deeply than we thought it could. That’s not necessarily a bad trait, but it’s indeed a toxic habit we should get rid of. It’s not that tweeting something funny or posting a selfie on Facebook is the worst thing in the world. But you have to be very careful of how to use it.
Just yesterday, I was looking at my best friend's photographs in Instagram (he does a lot of black and white portraits). I'm not saying this because he's my friend, but he's really talented. I haven't seen him in a while, and Instagram is a way to keep in touch when our lives get too busy. After a while, I thought of writing him a compliment on his work, and instantly afterwards it hit me: "Instead of just writing him something, why don't I call him and meet for coffee?" It's that simple and it wasn't the first thing that came to my mind. And he's not my partner, but I do have a special connection with him, and even though I know I shouldn't hide on my cell phone, it was my first choice to reach out to him.
The actual problem between human relationships and the digital world arrives when we completely depend on it to do something as human as falling in love. Fortunately, the solution is pretty easy: dare to change.
If we dare to feel without virtual handicaps, without being afraid to have a real human connection, we will achieve something bigger than we think. We will prove those elders that think we don’t know how to fall in love wrong. But we are too comfortable sitting behind our phones, wondering what to watch for tonight’s Netflix and Chill, finding the right meme to share, or taking thousand of selfies to find the perfect one for Snapchat. If we don't dare to step outside that comfort zone, we'll never know if falling in love can actually be different from what we're living right now.
So, leave the phone on airplane mode for an hour and have a genuine conversation. Have a walk in the park with that special someone. Lay on the grass and stare at the sky for no reason. Cherish the kisses and the hugs of your significant other. Capture the details of their smile. Fall in love.
You might also enjoy reading: