Like basically everything else on Thought Catalog, "This is How We Date Now" is full of generalizations while taking zero responsibility for your own life choices.
We don’t commit now. We don’t see the point. They’ve always said there are so many fish in the sea, but never before has that sea of fish been right at our fingertips on OkCupid, Tinder, Grindr, Dattch, take your pick. We can order up a human being in the same way we can order up pad thai on Seamless. We think intimacy lies in a perfectly-executed string of emoji. We think effort is a “good morning” text. We say romance is dead, because maybe it is, but maybe we just need to reinvent it. Maybe romance in our modern age is putting the phone down long enough to look in each other’s eyes at dinner. Maybe romance is deleting Tinder off your phone after an incredible first date with someone. Maybe romance is still there, we just don’t know what it looks like now.
Bullshit. Beau and I met on OKCupid. I moved to New York, where I had every intention of dating women via OKCupid, but I chose to see what would happen with Beau. And if I had decided to keep dating casually in New York? It wouldn't have been my need to order up the perfect human being, but my need to explore my attraction to women and become more comfortable with bisexuality.
Beau asked me to be his girlfriend over email. I accepted over text. This worked for us. Then we had the next month to wait in agony to see each other in person to say, "I love you," since we didn't want to first say it over skype. Romance isn't dead. We have reinvented it, just like it gets reinvented every time the world changes. That's life.
Open up Instagram and see the lives of others, the life we could have. See the places we’re not traveling to. See the lives we’re not living. See the people we’re not dating. We bombard ourselves with stimuli, input, input, input, and we wonder why we’re miserable. We wonder why we’re dissatisfied. We wonder why nothing lasts and everything feels a little hopeless. Because, we have no idea how to see our lives for what they are, instead of what they aren’t.
Most of my friends and family are pretty darn happy. Hell, my mom has cancer, my twin brother is in remission from cancer, my Crohn's has been really shitty lately (ha, literally and figuratively), and my last grandparent died this year. ETA: Beau just reminded me that he lost his high-paying job in October, just a week after my grandmother died. I'm still pretty darn happy with my life. My little brother is a little moody and drinking too much, but he's also channeling that post-collegiate, stuck-at-home taking care of Mom, angst into some truly amazing songwriting. I don't know if he's "miserable," but if he is, he's at least doing something about it.
Instagram is not the problem. Stimuli is not the problem. Other people's happiness is not the problem. Aside from being clinically depressed, which is TOTALLY DIFFERENT from general unhappiness or sadness, then your happiness is up to you. I'm not saying you need to be a ray of sunshine every single day, but your misery is your own problem, and your own choice.
And, even if we find it. Say we find that person we love who loves us. Commitment. Intimacy. “I love you.” We do it. We find it. Then, quickly, we live it for others. We tell people we’re in a relationship on Facebook. We throw our pictures up on Instagram. We become a “we.” We make it seem shiny and perfect because what we choose to share is the highlight reel. We don’t share the 3am fights, the reddened eyes, the tear-stained bedsheets. We don’t write status updates about how their love for us shines a light on where we don’t love ourselves. We don’t tweet 140 characters of sadness when we’re having the kinds of conversations that can make or break the future of our love. This is not what we share. Shiny picture. Happy couple. Love is perfect.
Actually, a shit ton of people share the 3am fights and tear-stained bedsheets, and then another Thought Catalog article will include them in their round-up of "Most Annoying Behaviors on Facebook." I mean, most people call that TMI or overshare. In fact, I'm actually surprised at the amount of (shitty) relationship advice out there that says to NEVER complain about your spouse to other people. Apparently you can ONLY work on your marital problems with your spouse, and maybe a marital counselor. You can't ask your mom for advice, or confide in your best friend, or anything like that.
So basically, you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.
And sorry, but you're an idiot if you think the happy portrayal of a couple on social media is the equivalent of a perfect relationship. Beau and I rarely fight. That is the honest-to-goodness truth. But we have to work through small issues and big issues, just like any other couples. I'm just pretty sure no one is interested in hearing a summary of how I convinced Beau to eat carrots twice a week, or how we divide up housework. And frankly, the last time we DID fight involved people other than the two of us, and even if I'm comfortable sharing the nitty gritty of our relationship, I think it's inappropriate to talk about how other people affected that fight.
We realize that this more we want is a lie. We want phone calls. We want to see a face we love absent of the blue dim of a phone screen. We want slowness. We want simplicity. We want a life that does not need the validation of likes, favorites, comments, upvotes. We may not know yet that we want this, but we do. We want connection, true connection. We want a love that builds, not a love that gets discarded for the next hit. We want to come home to people. We want to lay down our heads at the end of our lives and know we lived well, we lived the fuck out of our lives. This is what we want even if we don’t know it yet.Actually, I don't like talking on the phone. I enjoy it with some people, but it's usually not my thing.
I'd love to see the faces of people we love not on my computer. Except that requires the money to fly to France, to Australia, to Canada. Just getting enough vacation days to visit my parents is difficult enough. Skype and Facetime mean I can see my loved ones in real time, not matter our distance.
I don't want slowness. My life is balanced. Some weekends are relaxed and slow and leisurely. Others are busy and fast-paced. I want both.
If your life requires validation on social media, that is YOUR PROBLEM. Don't blame the existence of social media.
True connections can happen online. I fell in love with Beau over text messages, emails, gchats, and skype. We're still together, more than three years later. I've taken Internet friendships and turned them into real-world friendships. Some of my blog readers, Twitter followers, etc. have become my friends. I haven't met them yet, but I want to, desperately. Amanda, Betsy, Lola, Carolynn, Elle, Dana, Jess, and so many more.
If you're unhappy, if you're lonely, if you're unsatisfied with your life, I am truly sorry.
But technology is not to blame.