I read an article recently on how my generation (gen Y) has forgotten what it truly means to love and to be in a committed, romantic relationship. Despite my initial resistance to the idea– because it seems our generation gets blamed for messing everything up– the article made way too many solid points to be ignored or cast off as unimportant.
The article, titled “10 Reasons Why This Generation Is Losing The Ability To Be In Love” from Elite Daily (figured I should give them credit…), takes into account different aspects of the Gen-Y culture and explores them in the context of love and romance. Topics include instant gratification, drugs and alcohol, sleeping around, egocentrism, and so on. Like I said, it made a lot of great points and I would highly recommend reading it, even if you don’t plan on falling in love anytime soon (because apparently none of us actually are anyway right?)
Anyways, the article really got me thinking about our generation and what else could be affecting the way that we have come to understand love. Well, what’s different about our generation? I started. What plays a crucial role in defining the way that we live and perceive our lives and the lives of those around us?… It was not a long brainstorming session– I had an answer in about thirty seconds. The Internet.
Ours is the first generation that has grown up, for the most part, with computers everywhere and the world wide web at our fingertips. And what do we find ourselves primarily using the internet for? Social media. Way back in the seventh grade I remember creating my first social media account on Myspace.com. The excitement of creating a profile, choosing a personalized account background, and organizing my “Top Friends” was totally unexpected, and oddly addicting. It was almost as if Myspace could quantify and expand my own social status and popularity.
Ever since then I’ve been using social media accounts daily. Literally EVERY DAY. If you think about all that time and all those years, that’s a lot of days. Currently I’m a consistent user of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, and all three give me an outlet for my personality. And all three show my personality in a different light; Facebook is where I post my more formal self, just in case a potential employer happens upon my profile. Snapchat is where I share my much more informal self, and Instagram is somewhere in the middle of the two.
So, what does this have to do with love?
For many, many years now we have been developing different versions of ourselves all over the internet. We can pick and choose what we want to share about ourselves with our peers and, inevitably, this changes their overall image of us. In order to love someone, I’d posit quite confidently that you need to know someone and you need to know them well. Now, how are we supposed to get to know someone when they seem to be a number of different people in one?
Between all the status updates and Snapchat stories, it becomes really hard to determine what kind of person someone might be. I have found that very rarely does someone remain consistent in personality in both their real life and their virtual life. So, in our search for getting to know, and eventually fall in love, with a potential partner we have created walls and barriers of, dare I say it, a bunch of fake, superficial shit. And we are forced to dig through it all and sort it out in order to determine if someone might or might not be compatible with us.
Now, I don’t know about you but, at a certain point, I really don’t care to do that much work. I’ll much sooner give up on the opportunity for love than have to stress my mind out wondering what someone might have been doing at that huge party they posted a ton of pictures of, or if that picture where they looked really close and intimate with another person was really a “we’re just friends” thing. I admit openly that I am an over-thinker by nature and by choice, but I would bet that I am not the only one– far from it in fact.
It’s way too hard to just try and ignore everything that gets put up on social media. As human beings we want to figure things out and understand what this or that might really mean on a deeper level. We want to understand the person we will potentially fall in love with as fully as possible, and the endless impressions we get from social media are overwhelming to say the least. It’s far easier to just go about our days independently and not have to worry about figuring out another person and their multi-faceted real and virtual lives.
DANNY P WRITES
(I’m of the opinion that social media can be used for good, and in our world today it may play a key role in a lot of cultural and social issues we are facing. But I do not think social media is beneficial to love, at least not in the manner most of us currently use it.)