Love. A concept that has existed from the beginning of time, something that everybody has sought after, but how has technology changed our understanding of it? In this TedTalk, Helen Fisher argues that technology has not changed love, while Esther Perel claims that our need for love has not changed, but how we love has. In the book, When Old Technologies Were New, Carolyn Marvin discusses how a husband discovered his residential telephone was tapped and used this information to prove to the court that his wife was cheating on him. In another scenario, a man was about to ask if he could court a woman, but right before he managed to speak, the phone rang and another gentleman beat him to the punch.
These scenarios aren’t that far off from what occurs today. Cameras and tapped phones are still used to investigate questionable significant others and one text and/ or DM can change a person’s entire day’s plans and potentially even relationship status. The chapter does later go on to say that “despite the artifactual efficiencies of electrical media so admired by professional experts, they, too, attached greater weight to the irreducible face-to-face encounter as a more trustworthy guarantor of integrity” (page 87). Fisher claims that millennials value being a good parent more so than having a good relationship, while the latter is more important to the parents and grandparents of these millennials. She also mentions how she believes that the shift to egalitarian relationships has caused more of a change than technology has. Now that women can support themselves, they no longer need to search for a suitor with a good socio-economic status, but are free to make choices based off preference. Perel then added that though this is true, technology has broadened one’s horizons.
People have more accessible choices for a partner now than ever before and while this excites and entertains many, it also ensues a bit of dread. People have a fear of missing out, of choosing the wrong partner and yet, they also have a fear of being alone. Fisher made the point that people are consumed with getting to know every little detail about their partner that “where marriage used to be the beginning of a relationship, it’s now the finale.” Though comical, both speakers made compelling points that our society is becoming overwhelmed by choice and, as a result, is choosing to live a lukewarm love-life. We have so much access to another person’s personal life that, by the time of a first date, you probably already know where that person grew up, who their friends are, and what they value. The spontaneity and romance is dying as people become more fixated and critical about the details.
As the saying goes, comparison is the thief of all joy. We can go on our social media feeds, compare one couple’s highlights to our mundane and become completely jaded towards our partners for not living up to our high expectations. We are slowly sabotaging our relationships by remaining fixated on the world around us. We are forgetting to water the plants in our own garden, which leaves us feeling desolate. Technology is only going to keep advancing and I’m not claiming that we should all go live under a rock, but rather, we should take a step back every now and then to appreciate what’s in front of us.
Just some food for thought,