Monday, December 5, 2011

New Age, New Standards

Since the rise of the internet in the 1990s, it has bern integrated into our society and, in a lot of ways, has begun to define our culture. Today, most people have access to the Internet in their pocket – and we thought the telephone was revolutionary. Our culture has become fast-paced, dependent on immediate gratification, and more interconnected than ever before.

While these changes carry historical significance in terms of global communication, politics, and many other facets of life, it has also revolutionized dating. The first thing this notion might bring to mind is online dating; but more important than that is the impact that the Internet and constant connectivity has had on standards of courtship. When our generations’ parents were dating, they sat and waited by the phone, stared out the window at the mailbox, and went to school or the mall with the hope that they might run into the object of their affections. Our generation gets annoyed if someone you are interested in does not respond to your text message within five minutes of you sending it – heaven forbid they choose to read your message and not respond (you just got “R’ed”!). The ability to instantly connect to a person of romantic interest has a lot of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to courting. It cuts out the middle man of actually requiring someone to ask their romantic interest on a date. You can find out all the answers to your questions (major, hometown, family life, interests, hopes, dreams, plans, etc.) by simply reading a Facebook page instead of conversing over a meal or coffee.

By cutting out the necessity of face-to-face conversation that dating encompasses, there is a greater emphasis put on “hooking-up”. Countless studies show that one of the essential ingredients to forming a lasting relationship is intimacy, which involves a mutually satisfying, close relationship with another person. How can this increasingly popular culture of “hooking-up” possibly lead to intimacy?

The constant connectivity that characterizes our generation, for better or for worse, is not going to disappear; in fact, it will probably become even more prominent in our culture. The need for immediate gratification is a side-effect of constant connectivity; we expect to get what we want when we want it. Dependency on immediate gratification leads to hedonism becoming the norm in our culture; and living only for pleasure is not a lifestyle that encourages mutually respectful courting that ideally results in achieving intimacy with another person. Our parents’ generation courted by asking their romantic interest out on a date – an act that requires patience, planning, understanding, and, most importantly, time. Our generation courts by shooting a romantic interest an e-mail or text message asking about plans for the night in the hopes of seeing that person out at the bar. Has our generation become so immersed in immediate gratification and impersonal communication that the concept of dating will become extinct?

Long distance dating has never been easier and the divorce rates have never been higher. Our generation is the lab rat for the effects of constant connectivity and it is our challenge to create a positive outcome and set an example for the younger generations that are also growing up in this new age of connectivity. Dating is timeless and courting should be done personally – they have stood the test of time for this long. Don’t let our generation be the ones to erase them.

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