Relationships: all you need is gasoline and a lighter

Technology has a deep relationship with my generation, which makes sense because we have experienced extreme technological advancements. We are the progressive group of future leaders of this world, and everything we do as we become adults will be affected by our interactions with technology. So what does that mean for our conceptions of love and romance?

I do not try to understand or imitate the kind of extroverted people who just naturally form relationships of any type. Although I am not extremely introverted, I do not just walk into a room of strangers and think, “Oh yay, new people! Let me introduce myself and be friends with all of them!” I am more like, “Why am I even in this theoretical room of strangers? I have homework to do! Is there food here at least?” 

When it comes to romantic kinds of relationships, at times I feel like I am light years behind the rest of my generation in that category. I am still fairly new to social media, and technology hates me. I often have conversations with my phone which involve me yelling at it for not working. Yet, I feel like technology is an integral part of romance for my generation. 

Think of the last time you went on a date. Was there any point where you not only were not checking your phone, but didn’t have it with you? Where you were simply enjoying the time spent with the other person, disconnected from the technological world?

I cannot even remember a time when I did not at least have my phone on my person during a date, although I will admit it often comes in handy if the other person is not a pro at small talk. I do not think that is a bad thing, because keeping my phone with me means I can contact any one of my friends in case the date goes bad, helping me feel safer. Also, then I can show whomever I’m on a date with all the millions of pictures of my cute dog, because obviously that is the most important thing we could ever talk about while on a date. 

I will not become like my grandparents—or even my parents—and start bemoaning how the younger generations are too disconnected from the world and always staring at their phone screens. I recognize and accept the value of technology in today’s world and I do not expect it to go away anytime soon. If anything, I expect it to increase until almost everyone in this world is connected to the online universe. 

However, I do not understand the effect our technological advancements have had on love. The complex interactions people my age have with their social media accounts and how they let the opinions of these apps affect how they live their lives is not something I think is completely positive. 

Take Tinder for example: an app created to help people who would probably not have met otherwise to introduce themselves to each other through a social media platform. The overall goal of this app is commendable because it is attempting to create higher connections between people and broaden the experiences of whom they interact with online and in the real world. 

However, the complex dichotomy between the online world and the real world found in an app like Tinder is, I personally believe, underplayed to a potentially detrimental level. 

Through Tinder, people meet mainly based upon pictures of how the other person looks. Right away, this shows the value the app gives to physical appearances and the importance of looking a certain way to find people attracted to you. Also, Tinder is not solely used for people looking for meaningful connections and potentially long-lasting relationships. Some people use it with the simple goal of finding a new person every time they get lonely and for the pure want of physical companionship. 

So, what does an app like this say about the value of love, devotion and dignity in relationships? In an app based highly upon physical presentation and ability to change and look appealing to the desires of others, the honesty found in self-confidence is lacking. This is highly problematic in my opinion because apps like this one greatly affect the self-esteem of the people who use them. If a person wears a lot of makeup and revealing clothes and then gets a lot of interest on Tinder, what does that tell them about their self-worth? 

Apps like Tinder tend to sexualize people and attribute to them only the value other people find in their physical presentation. These apps promote relations that, at times, are not even relationships because the only mutual connection formed between these two people is the loneliness they feel. 

I am not here to say Tinder is bad or that people should not use it. I completely understand the value of an app like this that can connect people who may have poor social skills or who live too far apart to be able to meet. I am sure there are people on apps like this who are confident in themselves and feel able to post pictures of themselves looking silly or without makeup, still feeling secure in their self-worth despite the differing amounts of likes they get from other people. 

However, for people who struggle with their self-image and find comfort in the admiration of others, please keep in mind the liminality of an app like Tinder. The people looking at your pictures do not really know you and they do not know every little amazing thing that makes up your unique personality.