The Age of Convenience

Our society has made love, romance and everything in between a convenience. With a tech-savvy generation of blaringly interconnected people, there is little room for spontaneity. Romance is dying.

These days, you can swipe your approval or rejection of another human being within seconds. Most of us barely look at profiles individuals have spent time building, spinning a web of how they want to be perceived, to be appealing, with the hope that someone will recognize their worth just enough to hit the “like” button. That maybe the conversation will lead somewhere out of the shallows and into the facets of who they truly were rather than who they had painted themselves to be.

I used to believe that my love story would be epic. I don’t know how true or realistic that is anymore. The teenager who daydreamed about meeting her significant other in the dim, peaceful corners of a bookstore, or during solo adventures traveling the earth, would be sorely disappointed in the change of mindset that has reluctantly settled into the twenty-two-year-old version of herself.

Maybe the way romance and courting took place decades ago is just a fantasy that was relevant to that era. If that’s the case, I wish I had grown up in the sultry Jazz Age, dancing with a handsome, dapper man to Louis Armstrong’s husky voice in a dark nightclub somewhere in New Orleans or New York.

It hurts to think about the way romance has dulled for our generation. Don’t we deserve the soul connections, the spark of meeting someone for the first time, the excitement of dating and being swept off of each other’s feet? We have grown mundane. We swipe, text and forget. Repeat.

The cycle is, frankly, exhausting. There is an ease to which we temporarily latch onto people – whether it’s for sex, a short-lived relationship, or for one night only, but at the end of it, we are left to our own devices. I rarely see room for growth in these online/app-based connections. That means people stay stagnant, and that thought is truly forlorn.

Re-frame: I believe we can do better. That we deserve better.

Maybe it’s not such a negative thing that we have instant access to potential connections? Maybe we need to rethink the way we see dating apps. It’s fine to hook-up and get that release (trust me, I am more than supportive of people’s needs) but it’s not sustainable long-term. To thrive, we need human connection. We need to get to know another person, swim into their depths and see them. We need to give ourselves a chance to actually feel something for more than one night or a few weeks or three months. I am just as guilty of the Barney Stinson Method as the next guy – the quick release, the ruthless cutting of ties. I have unintentionally hurt egos, choosing numbness over the opportunity to feel something more than fleeting. It’s just easier that way.

But it’s not enough anymore.

As an adult in the quote “real world” we don’t have the same opportunities we did in college. There, you could meet somebody briefly, hook up and get the hell out, and be nonchalant about it. You had class, extracurriculars, internships, friends, parties – a stimulating social life – to keep you occupied. Relationships weren’t usually the priority, but if you happened to be in one, it’s because you were lucky enough to meet your person while you were there.

But as a post-grad and young professional, I’ve found life isn’t that effortless anymore. You don’t have a campus to meet people (friends or romantic interests), you don’t really have “after-school activities” per se (except maybe hitting up the bar?). You have to figure out how to build a network and a social life without even really having an in. Most of us turn to our coworkers and find solace in those friendships. But even that gets too repetitive.

I don’t know about y’all, but I need several circles to feel truly fulfilled. I don’t like mixing too much because I appreciate different types of people for different needs (ex: inner circle of best friends, the acquaintances you get coffee with, study-buddies, etc.), but it’s a lot harder to find those sets of people in this realm of Adulthood. I’m tired of my cup being filled merely through FaceTime or phone calls. I appreciate catching up with my friends and family, but I also yearn for real-time human connection. And this doesn’t have to be in the purely romantic sense. People should be able to easily access friendships – I mean we have all these damn apps, but they’re so focused on split-second attraction. What if we used them to find friends (as well as for their original intention)?

We are an online world. We live vicariously through social media, portray ourselves in a positive light – beaming, radiant – and though that may be truly how we were feeling when we posted, it doesn’t diminish the loneliness. Such is life: we grow up and move on and friendships dwindle. We hold on to those who have truly made an impact, and that’s beautiful and should be cherished. But I also think, again, that we deserve better. If we have such easy access to other humans 24/7, we may actually be lucky in that regard. It’s easier to filter out and zero-in on what you’re looking for. But let’s take that to the next level. Let’s go on those dates and really try. Let’s have a genuine conversation, cut through the layers, feel and be seen and do the same for the other person. Maybe that’s the only date you’ll have with them, but hey, at least you weren’t numb. At least you gave it a real shot.

I know a few successful couples that have met on these apps. Their love stories turned out to be sweet. Maybe they didn’t meet in an epic way, but they’re still together, and their love is no less valid than it would be if you happened to stumble across your soulmate in a coffee shop in Peru. So don’t please get me wrong – I’m not saying don’t use these apps, because ya girl sure does – I’m saying take advantage of them. We may live in an Age of Convenience, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less romantic.

We all deserve some kind of epic. Whatever that looks and feels like is up to us to decide.

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