Think back for a moment to a time before iPhones. For the sake of generational laziness, let’s call it BiP. Life BiP was simple. It was a time when the word “love” wasn’t so flippantly shorthanded, internet connections were dial-up, time was precious, and emoticons required some level of consideration. Remember nervously typing out “& hearts ;” on MSN/AOL messenger? Yeah, love was an effort. But we didn’t mind, because we knew it was supposed to be. Because it meant something. In the tumultuous, puberty-ridden years that followed (life AiP) something devastating happened. Romance, as it was once known, began dying a slow and silent death. It didn’t make international news headlines, it wasn’t mourned by the general public. It simply vanished, without a trace.
Just like that. As a self-confessed hopeless romantic, I’ve often found our shifting perceptions of modern-day love to be a little unsettling. And so I recently took it upon myself to investigate — to identify a few of the key culprits. Be warned, they hit a little close to home.
I recently caught myself sending a text message composed entirely of iPhone emojis to my partner. It wasn’t out of convenience, either. You see, the message was a simple one; containing 14 short, simple words, and should’ve read as follows:
I hope you don’t miss the train. Dinner’s on the stove. I love you.
It would’ve taken all but 10 seconds to write. Instead, I spent the greater part of a minute compiling and hitting ‘send’ on the following anime-clustered combination of noseless faces:
It was one of those rare and quietly confronting uh-huh! moments. Confronting, in part, because I love my partner in a way that’s entirely deserving of words. Great words, written words. You know, the kind we were once taught to construct letter-by-letter and string into congruent sentences which bore some level of meaning. Emojis have essentially dumbed the great language of love down to a toddler’s picture book. Childish and easy.
The once-fine art of wooing a potential lover has been gradually reduced to the ape-like motioning of our pointer from the right side of an iPhone screen, to the left (to the left).
Tinder has rendered us all egotistical editors of the same trashy relationships magazine — flipping through the same feeble pages, bitching on the same angles to the same selfies. The popular love-finding app promotes a terrifying new-age godlike superiority. We write and uphold unattainably strict criteria;, whether it’s to win a place in our hearts or one between our legs.
Whatever happened to nervously approaching an attractive stranger on the subway, or the serendipitous notion of scribbling your phone number on a one-dollar bill? Would Harry have met Sally if she’d presented an unflattering profile picture? Would Romeo have fallen for Juliet if she’d happened to live outside of his 3-mile-set radar?
Let’s be honest, the ability to follow a stranger without introduction is nothing if not fundamentally creepy. Instagram divulges its users the personal polaroids of those they pine for — without all the effort of dusting off old photo albums and meeting their parents. I might be young, but I’m sure there was once a time when faded personal photographs were a thing. A special thing. When friends, dates or lovers would meet up for a wine or coffee to share stories and reminisce over precious moments, immortalized on glossy paper of their choosing.
There’s nothing nearly as sentimental or romantic about hitting ‘like’ on a Valencia-filtered holiday snap. Sorry. There just isn’t.
4. The Kindle App
No great love story ever began with a cute stranger tapping someone on the shoulder and remarking “No way, you’ve got an iPhone 5 too?”
While eBooks are undoubtedly a time/space/cost-effective way of reading, and conveniently available via the Kindle app on your phone, you’re essentially denying yourself the invaluable opportunity of connecting with strangers over a shared taste in literature.
And is there a more fertile ground for true love to bloom than that of a mutually-loved paperback? Book covers make great conversation starters. Conversations = boundless romantic potential. Your iPhone is quite literally (or literarily) robbing you of potential monogamous bliss.
You know what? Sometimes it takes a little getting lost to really find yourself — or, even better, find someone else. The ‘Maps’ app of your iPhone has brutally murdered the once-romantic notion of asking a stranger for directions.
Apart from the smoker’s classic “have you got a lighter?”, asking for directions was perhaps the only awkward-proof way for self-conscious singletons to approach attractive bachelors in public. You’d pretend that you were looking for some popular cafe. He’d know where it was. “Do you mind showing me the way?”
Boom. You’re on a date. Probably falling deeply in love.
These days, it’s impossible to ask someone for directions without receiving that confused look. You know the one. The one that silently screams “Who are you? Why don’t you just look it up on your iPhone like a normal person?”
What, no iPhone? Unfathomable. Surely a leper. Get away from me.