What ever happened to going steady? People used to date and get to know each other and take the time to discover what they like about each other. Is it just me, or does that sound exhausting? Dating has changed so much for our generation. Real, meaningful, steady relationships are hard to come by. And although it’s something we all say we want I’m realizing that some of us really don’t have the time, patience or energy to actually dedicate ourselves to a real relationship.
I’ve experimented with all sorts of ways to meet people: the traditional “meeting-a-stranger-at-a-bar” to the not-so-traditional “Tindering.” But I’ve realized that no matter the avenue, the destination still seems pretty much the same. Exchange pleasantries, exchange Facebook friend requests, exchange spit, and never hear from each other again.
What’s to blame? I think we have too many choices. And having too many choices really leaves us with none. We think we know what we like, but then we see all these different kinds of people, showcasing the most appealing versions of their lives via the Internet, and suddenly we can’t figure out what we like anymore, what’s worth trying for.
We are over-stimulated and underwhelmed. Too many options have convoluted our sense of quality and reality.
According to an article in the NYTimes, the popular hook-up app Tinder is downloaded more than 20,000 times each day with an estimated half a million monthly active users. Why have apps like Tinder become so popular? Because we have this need to see what all of our options are. We have a need, a nearly insatiable need, to always know what else is out there. And Tinder gives us that, pacifies that craving just enough. We can flip through a Rolodex of potential candidates, swipe after swipe, until we see something that catches our eyes.
The truth is, we grew up behind screens. Games, homework, human interaction; it’s all been taking place behind a screen for the majority of our existence. So it makes sense that meeting people has gone that route. I haven’t completely lost hope for my generation, as many people seem to have. Yes, we do most of our communicating through text messaging, and our human interaction may be a bit skewed. But what I really believe is that we’ve just adapted to a new way of communicating. Ours is a different experience than the generation before us; not better, not worse, just different.
See, we don’t have a language to describe how dating works for us. We are working with a completely new landscape and have no map.
On top of that, we crave perfection. We feel entitled to the best there is out there. It’s the experience we’ve had as a generation. So when it comes to dating, it’s becoming difficult to justify to ourselves why we should become serious with someone because we have this irrational expectation of perfection based on false examples of humanity displayed over the Internet.
We are constantly bombarded with images of other people’s “perfect” lives. Of all the cool things we could be doing with all the cool people we could be friends with. We manufacture this perfectly varnished version of our lives via social media and then feel bad about ourselves when looking in on everyone else’s perfectly varnished version of their lives. It’s a vicious cycle and it’s causing us to never be satisfied. To always be chasing after something that doesn’t exist. How can we be expected to date one person for any length of time when we are constantly craning our necks to look and see who is coming up behind them?
I am a firm proponent of the benefits social media innovations such as Facebook have had on our generation. We are able to share and disseminate information at the click of a button, stay in touch with people from all walks of our lives, network, learn, discuss and explore. It is an amazing tool! But I don’t think we have considered the affect it is having on the way we interact with people in real life and the lens we now see life through.
So I’m proposing that we turn off, just a little bit. Step outside the social media bubble and venture into the world of truly getting to know people. Getting to know people, not Facebook and Instagram accounts. Let’s lift the filters and see how turned on we can really get when we experience life from the other side of the screen.