Modern Dating: The Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness
With the vast advancements in technology, societal modernity and female liberty, dating culture has evolved. While everyone mumbles that dating is dead and that the customs of the past were right and that “we”, as the politically correct, intersectional, sexually open millennials have ruined dating, I wish to protest this claim.
So here’s my argument: Dating is not dead. Dating has simply changed, just like… oh, I don’t know… EVERYTHING ELSE.
Now whether we view this evolution and cultural shift of finding romance and sex (be they together or separate) as positive or negative, I think is up to us.
Back in the day, you would listen to the radio and there was one station, and you waited for important events like the Olympics or presidential speeches to have anything to listen to. Then radio shows happened. Then we moved to televisions. More and more channels started to appear. Then there was a time when you would have a specific show that you knew was on Monday night at 8pm. And if you were not home on Monday night at 8pm, you missed your show entirely and had to wait for a repeat. With the advent of the VCR and taping, technology has grown to where you can now record 14 shows at the same time and then watch them later at your convenience. We’ve even furthered the progression with services like Netflix and Hulu. Now you can watch an entire television series in a day. The process has changed. Just like modern user experience, the process of dating has been made easier, more convenient, and more user-friendly. Neither negative nor positive, just different.
The same cultural approach has been applied to dating. The problem is dating requires something to be convenient, easy and user friendly for TWO people. And two people could define those requirements very differently.
Another component to the cultural change is the role of women in modern society. Women are less centered around marriage and babies because we no longer need them to survive! We finally have the possibility of living an independent life – just like men. A marriage is not consequential to having a place to live or someone to pay for food. And even though women are paid significantly and systematically much less then men, the possibility exists that we can live self-sufficiently or in much less stigmatized living situations; be that with roommates or family. We don’t need to have children because that’s “all we are meant for”. The societal shame in choosing to not have kids is still there but it’s not nearly as great as it has been in the past. It kills me when people look on this evolution of an equal society as shameful… Really? Because women now have the independence to not have to rely on a male individual (be it father, brother or husband), we’re somehow less than we were before?
Women are less centered around marriage and babies because we no longer need them to survive! We finally have security in living an independent life – just like men.
No. We have progressed. Society has progressed. As much as everyone thinks we’ve failed and we need to bring back the “good ol’ days”. No, we don’t. The “good ol days” were back when only some people *cough* white males *cough* had uncontested power, wealth and authority.
With traditional dating, maybe there was more time. But perhaps that’s not the crux of the issue. With traditional dating, it was understood and accepted that you sacrificed convenience for the other person. And those sacrifices became worth it when the other person returned the favor and you both valued each other’s time and sacrifices; appreciating how they brought you closer as a couple. This is no longer default. If it stops being convenient, easy and user friendly, we start searching for something that is. Technology has not only allowed dating to change, it has also inadvertently applied an almost consumer attitude to the search engine optimized hunt for a significant other.
The change in dating socialization is also a symptom of the amount of choices we have today. Back in the day you had all of 10 choices for a mate? And that’s if you were male. If you were female, you often didn’t have a choice. Nowadays we HAVE ALL THE CHOICES. Not only do I socially have the right to choose who to date or Netflix & Chill with, but I also do not have the limits of time, distance and location. I could start dating someone in Australia tomorrow.
From a feminist perspective and granted a very first world perspective, the freedom and ability to make choices based on affection/love/happiness rather then economic or political reasons is PROGRESSION. Modern dating is different. It has grown with technology and culture, changed with female autonomy, and advanced to be reliant on feelings and choice rather than contractual agreements.
Dating isn’t dead, it’s just that there’s an app for it now.
Written by Alyssa Skinner, Founder and Creative Director at The Smear Campaign, a cosmetics company that advocates for healthy and responsible sexual education, awareness and sexual autonomy for women worldwide.