” Is dating dead?”.
Sounds morbid, but that’s the question presented by a current, controversial New York Times article which argues that dating as we have actually known it has, well, handed down. I attempted the same concern on two of my female, single-but-dating colleagues. Their reactions were instant: “Oh, yeah.”.
Alex Williams, the author of the Times short article, charges online dating, hookup culture, and straight-out social connection with producing the “completion of courtship”– and the social rules that were supposedly part and parcel with it.
But dating is not dead. And the question of its ongoing presence is truly a stand-in for a much larger concern, one that my colleagues and I soon discovered ourselves talking about: Why is contemporary dating seemingly without mutual respect? And does that count as “death” to courtship as we knew it?
Modern Technologies and the “End” of Romance.
People are definitely still going on dates. In reality, every month, 25 million people seek out dates through online dating services. This figure alone (or a night out on any city bar scene) is testament that dating is in reality alive and kicking. That stated, the ways we date have certainly changed from the ways we used to, which’s to be anticipated. As human cultures and technologies evolve, so too will human relationships. What we are seeing is not necessarily the death of romance but the diminishment of a specific sort of human interaction which evolved for a specific sociocultural context. Certainly, some writers hail the end of outdated modes of courtship as a positive indication, demonstrative of a more nuanced and inclusive dating arena in addition to the growth of ladies’s rights.
However other authors (Williams included) lament the loss of conventional dating, blaming modern-day interactions innovations (such as Facebook, Gchats, and texting) for messing up love. These innovations, the thinking goes, enable continuous connectivity without the need for direct interaction and without social context, which can develop needless disputes (e.g., Facebook-stalking a date can cause discovering photos of them looking flirty with someone else, which can cause sensations of insecurity and anger, and so on). Said disputes, in addition to easy access to online dating sites, make it easier for us to leave present partners rather of putting in the work needed of any relationship. Indeed, interactions innovations have the prospective to reproduce disrespect for each other’s time, privacy, and individual worth throughout all phases of a dating relationship– as anybody who’s been broken up with through text message can attest.
All that being said, it’s not particularly practical to generalize an entire generation, as Williams does, as helpless victims of contemporary technologies and the “hookup culture” they allegedly promote. Undoubtedly, this line of thinking challenges the power that we, as people and as a cumulative generation, need to specify dating and our social relationships. We would do well to spend less time complaining text messaging and Facebook chats as the death knell of dating and more time clarifying the truth that we are not victims of these technologies. Modern technologies have not limited the ways we interact with possible romantic partners; instead, we restrict ourselves when we select to count on stated technologies to the exemption of all other methods of communication (e.g., good old-fashioned love letters, long talks on the beach, and so on). And we limit ourselves even further when we enable technological platforms to change or get rid of the human elements of our relationships, even when they take place online. Innovation is what we make from it.
The question, therefore, is not whether interactions innovations have exterminated romance or respect in our contemporary dating culture, however whether we will enable them to. Text messages and Gchats are not naturally without consideration for the person being texted or Gchatted; it is the human-generated content of said messages that indicates either respect or the absence thereof. A person can, for example, feel just as valued over a candlelit supper as they can feel disrespected; we can’t actually attribute these feelings to the “dinner” itself. Eventually, “love” and “dating” indicate different things to different people, and relationships are constantly case-specific. As a culture and as people, we would do ourselves a fantastic service by breaking away from the concept that “dating” must carry with it a fixed set of guidelines– because in truth, the sort of dates we go on and the technologies we utilize to prepare those dates matter less than the way we treat the individual there with us, and allow ourselves to be dealt with. Certainly, these options are the best ways we have of developing a culture of shared respect.