People are no longer leaving love down to serendipitous encounters. Instead they are actively looking for it. Dating apps abound. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all provide opportunities to find ‘love’. But has social media killed romance ?
All information about a prospective date is laid out before us. Name, age, height, occupation, an inspirational quote and a few posed photos make up a typical dating profile. Once swiped off the screen, our prospective date is replaced by another, and another, and another. Amongst a sea of opportunity, each individual profile fades into insignificance.
Modern technology has made life smaller and easier, but at the same time, it has diminished life’s mysteries and with it some sense of romance.
Not so long ago, I found bundles of letters from old boyfriends. I found letters from a holiday romance which started on a caravan site in Newquay when I was 18. For about three weeks after the end of the holiday we sent each other passionate letters. He sent me rose petals (which in the intervening 15 or so years have disintegrated and have turned the paper a mouldy grey). My Royal Mail romance faded as quickly as my rather pathetic UK suntan.
I found a bundle of beautiful letters from the time of my relationship with a cartoonist and graphic designer. He wrote weekly during my first year of University. Every letter was a work of art. His handwriting was exquisite and each page was decorated with hand drawn cartoon images. He shared his feelings, his fears, his musings and his mind. In his absence his letters were my window into his soul. I yearned for him.
As I read through these letters, I was reminded that it is only in absence, in a total isolation from our partner, that we truly realise the connection that we feel.
This was the old fashioned way of falling in love.
It wouldn’t happen these days. These days our phones ring in our pockets. WhatsApp pings. Twitter tweets and Facebook updates. We are forever connected. Our daily agenda is captured in social media. We bore our partners to death with snapshots of food, sunny days, flowers, inspirational quotes and ironic memes.
Even when we are together, we are connected by social media. On a date, our mobile phones buzz, they distract us with non-essential chatter. Our eyes are cast downwards looking at our newsfeed. We are connected, but we don’t connect.
I remember how this letter writing made me feel. I remember the excitement of receiving a new letter, the enjoyment of taking time out to write a letter. It makes me a bit sad that good old fashioned letter writing, the romance of putting pen to paper has died.
Grand romantic gestures feel redundant when we can connect via WhatsApp, when we can connect via Twitter. Our emotions are boiled down to emojis. Our likes and dislikes are counted and shared. Our thoughts are no longer personal secrets shared in a romantic way, but they are captured on our wall with the potential to go viral, or to get lost in the ether. I think social media killed romance .
I mourn the death of romance. I resent social media for killing it. I want to return to the love notes, and the longing for an absent partner.
Romance deserves to be so much more than a 140-character tweet.