Social Media and the end of Romance
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by Josh Lee
2013 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved
       "Oh my god. He hasn't texted me for hours. I'm so over him."
       Said a from a friend of mine the other night. It made me want to bang my head against a wall. That right there sums up the world I live in. The world where communication is done via social network and via handheld device where you never even have to open your mouth to speak to someone else. The world where we no longer decipher tone but emoticons or lack thereof. The world where fairy tales don't happen because life isn't that simple.
       And sure, maybe life isn't that simple anymore, so maybe it is necessary for us to rely on technology to keep the human condition on track. But maybe life isn't that simple anymore because we've made it necessary to rely on technology to ensure we survive. And while it does simplify menial tasks like keeping our records straight and our numbers right, it's completely destroyed man's natural social instinct.
       One area of technology is responsible for at least eighty percent of this evolution: social media. Social media, like all technological breakthroughs, definitely has its pros and cons. Our friends are closer than ever and we all have the ability to be in constant communication with one another. But on the downside, now that we have constant access to friends around the world, it becomes the norm. Talking to them and sharing the events of our lives isn't an occasion and it's simply not special.
       And, as such, the same can now be said for single people on the battlefield of love.
       It dawned on me the other day while I was messaging an old crush, that we live in a world where a little yellow smiley face or a perfectly shaped heart with a simulated glaze makes is feel as though we've just witnessed the grandest of gestures.
       I had been hoping to maybe grab dinner or drinks while I would be in town, and my heart skipped a beat when he sent me a smiley emoticon. I was so happy to see that, because the world we live in has trained me to perceive a digital character as an emotion. But really, I don't want that smile, I want his smile, perfect or not. I would much rather have a completely asymmetrical heart drawn with a ballpoint pen on a napkin or the lid of a chocolate box. And don't even get me started on love letters. I want hand written, not Helvetica.
       This is usually the point in the conversation where one of my friends butts in and tells me to get over it because fairy tales don't happen and it's unrealistic to expect flowers, love letters, or actual smiles. No one does that anymore, Josh. You know, if you lowered your fairy tale standards maybe you'd actually find someone.
       My question, since no one has interrupted me yet, is why? Why is it unrealistic to expect someone to go the length to write you a love letter and tuck it into the side pocket of your bag for you to find later? Call it corny or cheesy but I did that for my last beau.
       We were going to spend the week together down in Los Angeles. The night he was scheduled to arrive, I took off of work early, ran home to freshen up, and most importantly buy him a dozen roses from Von's. You know, because roses are romantic. That following week, just before he was about to head back, I tucked a note in with the lunch I had made him for his train ride home telling him I would miss him, that I loved him, and that I would see him soon. Needless to say everyone thought that was so corny and obnoxious. I thought it was cute.
       I could have posted a cute photo of roses on his Facebook timeline, and I could have texted him that I loved him. But, in my mind, I got to hand him the roses as I hugged him and he could have kept the post it in his wallet and that would have been infinitely more special than a text on his phone. Gagging yet?
       And then we broke up and so maybe he threw that post it away.
       Single once again, I began to explore the world of dating in the twenty first century, like the first Homo sapien, I mean homosexual, male learning to walk, I realized that the infusion of digital culture was even more prominent. At bars, people sitting alone no longer turn to talk to one another, they avoid all human contact by locking their eyes on the screens of their phones. People don't meet people in coffee shops, in restaurants, or on subway cars. People meet online, through apps, judging one another by their pictures, the bar being the ridiculous gender standards of the twenty first century. People get to know each other via Facebook. Things you have in common are listed out for you in your "mutual likes" page. Things you like are all on your timeline. Your feelings and opinions are only valid if you post them and they receive a few dozen likes.
       As a photographer who began before the whole "I have an iPhone and Photoshop, I'm a photographer" age, the way people treat and share photos today drives me up the wall and halfway across the ceiling. Photos are pieces of art. Yeah, I keep them on my computer as digital files but when I want to really show someone something I print it and frame it. Well, that don't really happen no more. All you gotta say is "go to my Instagram..."
       And yeah, I guess in the world of drive-thru Starbucks, and same-day delivery from Amazon (which I admittedly love), it does expedite the process quite a bit. But is social interaction, more importantly dating, romance, and intimacy really something we need to speed up? I mean, isn't the whole point of dating to spend time with the real cute boy or girl you met at (enter completely unexpected place here)?
       Maybe not. Maybe the whole point is to figure out right away that you aren't going to work out down the line because, oh my gawd, he likes Linkin Park on Facebook and that is sooo yesterday.
       But you know what? I would love to go back to yesterday. When social media didn't have a presence, romance was still alive and well, and I still had my ignorance and bliss.
       Oh who am I kidding, I wrote this whole thing on my iPhone.