Us, the cool 90’s kids live in a world of representation and constant redefinition of ourselves; not only towards one and another but also through Social Media. We all need at one point Love and to be loved, but for some of us, this quest can be hard to travel with the pessimism and utter individuality surrounding us daily. Social media acts either as quicksand or a torturer by putting us right in front of our feelings and even exacerbating them; fear of being unanswered, unheard, unseen. It seems thus that even if we are increasingly connected we are yet also very lonely at times. Is it still possible to find love in this un-Hobbesian love jungle of ours? Is our generation reconceptualising the definition of “Love” and its rules? After all, do we even know what we want in a relationship or what we really feel?
We are torn between traditional schemes remaining from our parents’ generation and the possibilities held within our current sociological landscape. Firstly, we are witnessing an Uberisation of Love Stories. Indeed, dating apps give us a glimpse of interaction and eroticism at the force of our thumb swiping right. You get a date for a hook-up on Friday night faster than a burger on UberEats. You do not go deep, you meet someone with a systematic process; few text messages, a drink and a “so is your roommate home or?”. It is predictable and eviscerated of any romantic or emotional substance. But romanticism on a first date is so “How my grand-parents met” vibe right? Sex is hence becoming less meaningful giving us the opportunity to rethink the nature of our relationship as it is shown with the blossoming of “friends with benefits” and occasional “hook-ups when you finished your finals” schemes. Secondly, and more substantially, Social media is a limbo in which we whirl when we refresh our feeds and stories; a platform like Instagram shows us daily this perfectly glossy and fitting image of love and relationships. Everybody on your feeds seems to be happy and all smitten with kitsch pregnancy announcements, new cute dogs and incredible vacations spent at golden hour on the beach somewhere in Thailand or Costa Rica. Moreover, the omnipresence of social media challenges us with having to interpret ones’ way of texting and ones’ mood, and even dictates our own when we see that “the special person for whom you put that special song from your Spotify or cute Selfie of yourself” did not see your story; Gosh this only should be listed as a form of torture. But it is important to remember one thing: Social media is not real life, there are no eyes looking into each other’s, no touch, nor voices.
In the capitalistic and efficiency demanding world that we are living in demands us to be everywhere and everything at the same time. You have to be a good student or co-worker, you have to drink your green smoothie at eight ‘o’clock, you have to do your YouTube abs work-out, see your friend for a beer at seven, find time to call your mum and watch Euphoria’s latest episode. Gosh is our time precious in 2020! Our energy and availability is pure gold at this point. Thus, we are less likely to engage in something that is not going anywhere, nor moving towards the direction we would like it to. Furthermore, many of us digital natives come from a generation of parents that divorced or separated by the time we finished high school. It left us with a pessimistic and cautious way of approaching Love and its implications.
Yet, Love is even harder to conceptualize as we are constantly in the present and the instantaneous waking up every day in a digitalized landscape in which it is tough to stand back and truly get to know ourselves and acknowledge our past pains and traumas. According to the WHO numbers in 2015; 26% of the global population aged from 20 to 34 years old suffer from anxiety disorders and 31.30% struggle with depression. Mental health is a real issue in our millennial world and society. We tend to make it taboo and fail to recognize that it jeopardizes the establishment of healthy and balanced relationships.
Besides, many of us are kids of what is called ‘Helicopter parents’ who raised us in a post fall of the Berlin Wall, Gulf War and September 11 attacks – they have constantly made sure that nothing goes wrong and could not bear the thought of us failing or being hurt in any way; hovering and projecting their fears and anxieties on us. Hence, troubling our views on boundaries and our need to sometimes have to rely on someone to get constant care and attention. It made some of us cross the path of toxic or narcissistic people that benefited from our lack of boundaries and need to live in ones’ eyes. Here, love is even harder to figure out and connecting with one and another in a healthy way is made even difficult.
Finally and more substantially, we forget that sustaining a romance is hard when the initial erotic energy and butterflies fade away and it asks of our time, energy and effort. Indeed, Love with the big L and what it entails in our daily life is demanding and the globalizing flow of energy and resource world that we live in does not allow us enough hindsight to conceptualize it. We no longer have a moment to ourselves to stop and reflect on what we feel. Besides, there is nothing much harder and painful than being loved by someone who does not understand us with all our past and needs and who does not get what Love implies. We want to be loved and accepted by someone who will see the best but also the worst in us; our desire for isolation, our growth and change, and alteration in our needs. Love is a greedy mid-west kid entering a KFC in Las Vegas: “I want it all and how I want it: hot and crispy”. Hence, healthy Love will enter your life the day you put aside your selfishness for a bit of elevation and altruism through communication and understanding. These two qualities are arduous to have in our individualistic and pessimistic era.
Nevertheless, even if being loved and taken care of helps us to face up to the struggles and difficulties that we have to cope with daily with some cute messages at night or date on a Friday evening; we still have ourselves and that will be the case until the graveyard.
Self-love is the key even if it is a long and arduous ride to take. So make yourself a nice plate by feeding your thoughts with nice memories with your friends, family, good books and art that sweep you off your feet. Then maybe someone will come by your table and bring the dessert. We should try to find “happily ever after” in simple gracious moments like the sight of your three best friends dancing their ass off on the dance floor on a Saturday night or a nice walk with a good view on a sunny Sunday afternoon.