Communication technology’s effects on dating


It’s not fair. We are supposed to immerse ourselves in books, movies and music. We are supposed to be cultured, and yet all that culture does is give us unrealistic expectations for the world. I grew up infatuated with romantic comedies from the 1990s and the early 2000s, I have read hundreds of romance novels, I’ve kept up with all the hit love songs both past and present, and still — nothing. All I got was a long list of celebrity crushes and a twisted perception of what being a teenager and young adult was going to be like.

I sound cynical—I’m an angsty 20-year-old, so this is  true to some extent—but the reality of the situation is that dating culture is shifting in a new direction. This in itself is not necessarily concerning; it has happened before and it will happen again, but this shift is a little different. In the 1920s dating culture shifted from road-to-marriage courtship to recreational dating. In the 1990s it shifted again from easygoing dating to an increasingly casual hookup culture. But today we are in the midst of a movement that is almost entirely connected to an increase in communication technology.

It’s funny to think that one day kids will look back on our romantic interactions—flirtatious texting and commenting, “talking” with our crushes, using Tinder and Bumble—and laugh about how ridiculous it is. Don’t think they won’t, because we do it too. We think that the concepts of “getting pinned” or having a dance card and a list of gentleman callers are utterly ridiculous (while simultaneously being jealous of those simpler times). We’re too close to the crash zone to see it, but our current dating culture is weird.

I blame social media. I’m a hypocrite of course, because I’m an avid social media user, but it’s ruining my fantasy of my life being like a John Hughes movie. No one plans elaborate schemes to get the girl’s attention, or serenades someone in the streets to win their love. So those things are far-fetched and fanciful, but what’s more concerning is that nobody even asks people on dates anymore. In our culture, going on a date is a meticulously planned-out ordeal that comes after a period of time spent “talking.” We jump right from meeting a person to being in a relationship, and somewhere along the way the fun exploratory concept of dating fell to the wayside.

To top it all off, dating apps have naturally become a norm in our media-driven society. I cannot think of anything less romantic than scrolling through a bunch of profiles and putting them into the equivalent of an online shopping cart. Don’t get me wrong, dating apps should appeal to me, seeing as I am lazy and really good at finding the perfect selfie lighting, but doesn’t it seem a little dull?

Unfortunately, I don’t think this culture is going to stray from its technological ways any time soon. In fact, technology is just going to continually become more and more integrated into every aspect of our lives. We will get more apps, more gadgets and more immediate gratification, and we’ll get less dating, less romance and less fairytale-esque imagination.

Maybe I’m wrong, I really hope that I am, and that’s saying something because I go to extremes to make sure that doesn’t happen often, but I hope that dating culture shifts again soon. I keep holding out for my romantic comedy to happen, for the guy to hold his Bluetooth speaker outside my window blasting his hand-picked Spotify playlist, for the rebel to serenade me in front of the whole school (which would undoubtedly be on everyone’s Snapchat stories spreading the scene across the world), or for the prince to sweep me off my feet and change my Facebook relationship status to keep my family from worrying about my personal life.

Maybe this culture isn’t all bad.