1. Communication is disconnected.
It seems that texts and Facebook messages have replaced phone calls and face-to-face conversations. While this is fine for casual talk and handy for discreet sexts, shifting major relationship discussions to taking place via texts depersonalizes them. The first time I ever broke up with someone, I did it in person, and gave him a hug afterwards. Almost every time I’ve been dumped, it’s been over a demoralizing, dehumanizing text message. Which in turn leaves me without closure, acknowledgement of feelings, or an outlet with the person to exorcise the negativity. Which leaves me, and many other Millenials, running around with pockets of unresolved feelings.
2. Apologies are out of fashion.
With arguments and breakups happening over text so often, it also makes it easier for people to escape. You no longer have to see your SO’s tears or hear the quiver in their voice when you screw up, and that’s not a good thing. I recently had an ex unceremoniously and abruptly dump me, and when I started to reply with how it hurt—and how it hurt to have it done via text—he simply said, “Please don’t tell me”, presumably turned off his phone, and has refused to communicate ever since. Running from consequences is an unhealthy pattern that textual communication makes easier and easier.
3. We wait for social media to be happy about things.
A very wise professor of mine recently told me that she used to keep a journal, and that she realized she was waiting to experience her life till she could write it down. While it seems almost no one keeps a journal anymore, people are waiting to experience their lives till they can announce it on social media. There’s no more quiet happiness about a new love, carrying a smile as you walk down the street. Instead, it’s not happiness till you announce it on social media and have it validated by 12 likes and 4 comments.
4. Or we fret over the pressure of social media.
Whereas before the internet all we had to do to ignore the burdens of singledom was drink a little extra at family gatherings, social media has made it almost impossible. It seems that everyone is engaged, married, having babies, or sitting in a pool of divine eternal happiness. At the age of 24, I have never felt more pressure to find someone to fall in love with and join the crowd. Just this week I spent almost an hour on GChat bemoaning the difficulty of finding love with a fellow 20-something lady friend. These days it seems people are so bombarded with ideas of how life and love should be, that letting it happen organically is all but forbidden.
5. Online dating makes us jaded and lazy.
Half of the relationships I’ve had, and probably ¾ of the dates, have started at online dating sites. While I’ve had some good ones (like a two year relationship that turned into a wonderful friendship), I’ve gotten so disillusioned with online dating masquerades that I’ve quit the whole scene. Online dating circumvents any bashful first date questions, and starts all relationships with carefully crafted online facades and depersonalized electronic communication. While I never fancy drunken ogles from creepers in public, I do miss the earnest intent of being asked out in person, and the adorable nervousness it brings. Not to mention that a person can’t hide or Photoshop out their flaws in real life; it’s often those very flaws that make a person endearing and attractive.
6. Social circles are more heavily stratified.
Intellectuals, stoners, stoner-intellectuals, goths, punks, goth-punks, and hipsters are just a few social cliques that exist amongst 20-somethings today. While some level of social stratification is a good thing, and develops circles, it’s gotten so divided that anyone who doesn’t fit into a convenient compartment of socialization feels completely lost. Now friends and lovers bond less over general struggles, and more over precise experiences and interests, which shut them off from other points of view. A few months ago a potential date told me (online, of course), “Ah sorry, I’m looking more for someone who works in tech on the hipster end of things”, after finding out I ran a nonprofit ballet company. This still makes no sense to me, as tech-working-hipsters seem like such a confined category that I doubt this guy will ever find love. But then again, who am I to say?
7. Romantic notions are scary and forward.
People are so afraid of appearing clingy, too forward, or too sappy, that it seems notions of romance are circling the drain. Growing up, it seemed that every movie and TV show depicted a first date as having a guy show up at the door with flowers and a cute smile. Now the norm is a text of, “here” as he waits outside. For some reason, men of my generation seem to have associated romance with sappy clinginess, and have eschewed both. Hand holding, asking to kiss, or just kissing a girl is a rarity. Of the past four first dates I’ve had, only one asked to hold my hand. The rest just felt like hanging out with a friend of a friend after the mutual friend left the room. So much for sexual tension.