Okay, so I took this title from one of the many Neon Trees songs that the pop rockers performed last Saturday in Norfolk. I’m still reeling from how incredible the entire show was, and if you’ve read my post about it, you know every performance affected me on an emotional level. With that in mind, of course the Neon Trees song is at least a part of the inspiration behind this post, so the title seemed a natural choice.
Neon Trees performing Love In The 21st Century live on GMA
The song is full of references to the modern day dating world where acts of honesty and intimacy are constantly crossed with lines of technology. Lyrics like, “your kisses taste so sweet, but then you click delete,” “I miss the days being kids, simple holding hands,” and “I’m sick of wondering if you would ever call me back, I check my four different accounts just to end up mad,” make it all too clear that lead singer, and the song’s writer, Tyler Glenn is just as overwhelmed and confused by our modern way of dating as anyone else.
So how, in a hook up culture, where swiping someone’s picture to the right on a phone app has all but replaced the hallowed meet-cutes of the romantic comedies we idolize, are we supposed to find love?
There was a time when asking for nudes was horrendously offensive, not jokingly coy as it seems to be today. There was a time, when a first date was also a first impression, now it’s incredibly rare that anyone not google their date beforehand, as well as stalk their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; sometimes going as far as searching for a date on LinkedIn to find out more about their career and financial situation. And what about the fact that we’re so quick to say whatever we’re thinking on these social media sites and dating apps? We’re revealing our entire lives in a matter of minutes, where as it would take months to tell a guy about your weird obsession with cat themed apparel in person. We’re often times confusing information with intimacy. We think a guy texting four word responses to us all day long is somehow equal to, or even better than, a face to face conversation every now and then. How are we supposed to find love when we’re overloaded with all of this technology and information?
Since I’m writing about this, and you’re reading about this, you’re probably assuming that somewhere within the depths of this post I’ll share some answers with you; deep down, buried under all the other paragraphs, I’ll finally start to reveal the magic of finding love in the 21st century. But the truth is, those answers will never come because I don’t know them. I mean it, I have no idea how to determine if a guy is a jerk who just wants to hook up or if he’s genuine when he says he calls his mom every Sunday just to check in. I can’t tell you whether you should or should not search through a guy’s Facebook before a first date because I don’t know.
I’m at a loss for how this technology assisted way of finding love works, but I also know there’s no going back. I think though, that all we can do is try. Just as we would without the assistance of technology, we have to put ourselves out there, wade through the waters full of douche bags and losers and just hope for the best, hope to find some balance of using the technology and information at our finger tips, but not relying wholly on it.
My favorite couple in the world, Jack Antonoff and Lena Dunham, met on a blind date, but Jack is quick to admit that he definitely used the Internet to his advantage before meeting Lena. Now you’re all thinking cyber stalking your date is okay. But Jack is also quick to say that after meeting Lena, he wanted to tell her everything about his life because when you just know you like someone, you want to share yourself with them. Now you’re realizing maybe it’s your date’s right to share his own stories with you. See? There’s absolutely no formula for it. One simple love story can encompass elements in favor of both the pro-technology and no-technology arguments.
I’m telling you, I’ll make up any excuse to search for couple pics of Jack and Lena.
But even as Neon Trees’ song wraps up, you find yourself optimistic. The song makes it seem simple; we’re in the 21st century, we want to fall in love, so we may as well fall in love this way. Hold on tight, guard your heart when you need to, but don’t be afraid to let love happen however it might. Just think, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks fell in love over the Internet way back in the 90’s on You’ve Got Mail, and their love story is a classic now.
What do you think are the major perks of dating in the technology age? What about the biggest drawbacks? Do you use dating apps or social media to start relationships? If so, how do you navigate the mostly unknown, uncertain waters? Let me know all your thoughts on dating and technology in the comments below.