As expected, countless people were looking for last-minute love this Valentine’s day. If the countless E-Harmony and match.com TV spots didn’t give it away, the increased social media usage definitely did. This year, countless tweets and blog posts bemoaned being single on v-day and gave advice to those poor, lonely souls on how to “survive” the romantic holiday of romantic holidays.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was also a lot of buzz about Tinder last week. I don’t have anything personal against the people who use this popular app, but something about it leaves me a little uneasy.
When it comes to Tinder and social media in general as a way of getting to know people, I’ve heard people defend it by saying that it’s a quick, easy way to get to know lots of people at once. The simple interface is another appealing factor. Judging simply from a person’s first name, age and five carefully selected pictures, you can decide whether or not you “like” someone.
What happened to the real thing? What happened to getting to know someone in person? I might sound old-fashioned here, but I would much rather prefer to get to know someone one-on-one, face to face. Even spending hours on the phone with someone, getting to know them, would be preferable to what has become the norm. Nowadays, if someone is interested in another person, all he or she has to do is find the object of their affections on Facebook and scroll through his or her profile to learn all about that person – from his or her college major to their favorite movies. These things used to be topics of conversation discussed at a first date over coffee. Now, you can get this information in a matter of seconds without having even talked to somebody in person.
We live in a world of instant gratification. We need things here and we need them now. It seems that nobody wants to take the time to get to know one another in person anymore – but why waste time talking face-to-face when scrolling through social media for a few seconds will give you all the information you need?
This applies to platonic, casual friendships as well. Imagine an updated version of The Breakfast Club set within the past three years or so. That story, sadly enough, would be completely unrealistic in this day and age – all the kids would just be sitting there on their phones the whole time, instead of getting to know each other. This interpersonal interaction was what made that movie such a classic. Despite their individual differences, the students were all stuck in the same miserable situation, so they decided to make the best of it. And in getting to know each other they formed amazing friendships. It’s troubling to think that this isn’t the norm anymore.
Believe it or not, I don’t hate social media and modern technology. In fact, as a PR major, I will be the first to defend its many good qualities. I realize that in many ways, it’s improved our lives for the better. However, society seems to be going backwards when it comes to getting to know one another. We experience awkward first dates that don’t go anywhere because we’ve already learned everything about the other person from his or her online presence, which eliminates many first date conversation topics. We are so engrossed in swiping left and right on Tinder that we can’t even look up from our four-inch screens long enough to notice the cute person across the room checking us out.
We see social media as a way to “catch up” on what’s going on with other people – but in doing so, we miss out on what’s going on around us. And no matter how hard you try, you can’t catch up on real life.