Love is Dead?: Millennials, Media, and eMotion

Love is timeless. It has no limit. It has existed since the beginning of time and I believe it will last until the end of it. But, I don’t believe that it has always looked the same. In our parents age, a phone call signaled interest. Dates were a more frequent occurrence. People stopped by someone’s house to see if they were home, a text wasn’t mandatory first. In the days of the caveman, offering your honey the largest, sweetest berry you could find showed your love. Complimenting them on their brand new loincloth. Today? You most definitely don’t get a phone call. A swipe right on Tinder  is considered flirting. A Snapchat can suffice as a vague acknowledgement of your existence. You’re still “sort of” on their radar.  And the dating pool is virtually unlimited. Vague connections behind screens. And a lot of fish in the sea. What does this mean for millennials? What does this say about our love culture?

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According to the “Towson Love Culture” Survey, taken by 84 participants, 46.4% of participants consider themselves optimistic when it comes to love; 47.6% realistic, and the rest a mix of “pessimistic” and “love is dead”.

Just under half of the participants, 48.8%, are in a relationship, and the rest is composed of “single”, “single and looking”, “it’s complicated” and in an “open relationship”. I believe this pool of participants provides an accurate and relevant representation of the larger population.

94% see marriage in their future or way down the line.

89% do NOT see marriage as outdated.

98.8% believe two people can commit to loving each other for their entire lives.

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Primarily, the survey says there is hope. So regardless of how technology has impacted us, the human desire for connection and love will always remain.

However, when it comes to Towson love culture, 57.8% said Towson students seem “primarily interested in hooking up but occasionally interested in relationships”. 15.5% say TU students are only interested in hooking up, 10.7% say “very open to relationships”, and 16.7% are indifferent. So it appears that Towson is an active participant in the hook-up culture with some…but mostly little regards to long-term relationships.

This makes sense as 71% of participants believe millennials have a hard time committing in relationships. So the evidence is right before our eyes.

Just under 80% say technology has BOTH positively and negatively impacted love culture. 33.7% use dating apps and websites. How does technology in our culture affect our love lives? Are we less committed because of technology?

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The media frames millennials as only interested in hooking up. The media says things like “Relationships are work. Millennials don’t want to work. They want instant gratification.” It’s easier to be rejected behind a screen than in person. We’re too open with our sexuality.

One participant simply stated, “love is dead and hooking up is fun. If only it were that easy.”
Another, “apathy, apathy, apathy–millennials see relationships as unneeded work.”

Many said we are fixated on things like Tinder for an instant gratification, a quick date or meet-up instead of the opportunity to let things grow the way they can “in real life”. Essentially, the questionnaire concluded that millennials are disconnected because they are behind a screen. Limited face to face contact. Quick process. Quick ending. Hence, a hook-up. And then it seems they are on to the next.

So millennials are amidst the infamous hook-up culture. But I think glossing over the issue with the simple “instant gratification” term is a surface level response. If we delve deeper, what does that reflect?

“Apathy and just general curiosity. I think it’s human nature to want to explore your options before settling, but it seems to have transgressed in this ‘I’m too busy to invest in another person.’”
“People are getting married later in life. No need to settle down early. Evolution of our species and culture? Our life expectancy is greater. We supposedly have more time on our hands. And with our time, we can explore more options. And with technology, we have access to many more options. So we don’t have to settle early on, or even at all.”
“We have access to so many things and I think that that mentality has spilled over into our dating experiences. We also are more career driven now, but still crave for sexual attention or intimacy. So that opens the door for a lot of casual sex, ‘try-outs’ in dating, until finally settling on someone.”
“I think that’s just a 20-something year-old stereotype in general. It’s not the 60’s anymore where people got married at age 21 and got pregnant 3 months later (if that). We’re waiting until we’re in our 30’s and so we get this “hook-up” culture stereotype thrown on us when really we’re not settling down the way our grandparents did and that’s okay. Our generation has more technology and health practices that enable a woman to wait until 30 years old to get pregnant…we don’t rush to be in a relationship in our 20’s because we have options.”

Another says enjoying casual sexual experiences isn’t solely a millennial trait. Just maybe millennials are more open to these casual sexual experiences than previous generations have deemed acceptable.

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So hinder or help?

“Always both. In some ways, it helps us find others we may not have come across naturally, but it also creates a superficial expectation–you start to worry about who they’re following on Instagram, who is retweeting them, if you two take enough photos together.”
“I think it discourages interaction. Having conversations in person allows you to pick up on ‘vibes’ so to speak or their demeanor. I like to really pay attention to people’s body language.”
“Hinder. You can’t love a person through a screen.”
“Technology helps people who don’t have the time or will to go outside into the world to mingle with people just like them through the internet…It is also scary in a way because you never know who you are meeting until you actually see them in person. There are a lot of people that like to take advantage of people through the internet.”
“I think it’s great! It’s a great way to meet people using apps like Tinder [but]…I like to meet people the old fashioned way of being introduced by a mutual friend. This means I like for the person to already know at least someone in my circle…”

I think it’s fair to say that technology hinders and helps. It has given us communication abilities that save extreme amounts of time we would have spent waiting for a pigeon to drop our letter onto our doorstep. We can connect with people across the country by picking up our phones or laptops. Facetime. Skype. Texting. Phone calls. Sending pictures and videos. We share our lives and expand them at the touch of a button.

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But living our lives behind a screen can be misleading. We don’t get the in person interaction of absorbing body language, we don’t know what someone may be hiding (catfishing), and we superficially skip over people who in real life, we may have had a real connection with just because of a quick glance at their profile. You get to see more fish in the sea, but it’s very surface level. And it feels easier to move onto a new person online. You can simply stop responding and before you know it, it’s over and they are texting and snapchatting a new person. So what does this mean for the future of our love lives?

“Marriage commitment and relationships are not lost, we just have to take time to find ourselves.”
“Many people are afraid of commitment. They think there is some sort of age range that is appropriate for commitment, and that’s at best. Most people are very cynical on marriage because so many now do not work out.”
I think it is showing a shift. The age in which we marry has been getting higher and higher over the years. We are seeing a lot more open relationships, just living together, and not wanting to make a commitment. As a person with an old soul, it scares me because I don’t want to be attacked on my belief that I want marriage.”
“…personally, as someone who was just in a committed relationship for over 3 years, there is no better feeling than being loved and committed to someone, and knowing another person has those same feelings towards you.”
“If we have a “hook-up” culture I believe it says that we don’t have commitment; marriages and relationships are commitment made by love so it means we don’t love or take the time to love.”

Maybe that’s it. Maybe we have so much more time to live and love that we take people for granted and assume we have all the time in the world. Commitment and marriage are a goal, but don’t seem “fun.” They are hard work. And maybe people would rather spend that time having “fun.” I suppose that depends on your definition of fun.

In addition, it isn’t a necessity to bond together, as in marry, to survive. It’s something we do as a personal choice. Our culture has evolved.

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But how much fun are empty hook-up’s really? Compared to being with someone who you love and loves you back? Maybe when we say fun, we mean a period of time where we don’t have to risk getting hurt and being vulnerable. A period of emotional numbness.

Good and bad. I suppose it depends on the person. Human connection is something that we can’t ever replace with technology. But the baggage that comes with love?  Maybe it is a way of keeping the inevitable hurt that love brings at an arm’s length. Maybe we are just more scared than ever to be vulnerable.

-Lissy Klatchko

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