love

Has Technology Changed the Way That We Love?

moulin rouge

One of my all-time favorite movies is Moulin Rouge.  For those of you who know me well, this might not come as a surprise to you since it’s about a tragic romance. Every once in awhile when I’m in a particular mood, I will think of the
“silly love songs” scene (shown below).  Why?  Well, when I think of love, I think of silly love songs.  I think of random verses that epitomize a cheesiness that can only be found in the movies. Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman do a stellar job of demonstrating the cheesiness that exists with love.  But they also demonstrate that depth and connection that we all want to find with somebody.

But this is a technology blog, so of course, I need to bring it back to technology – right?  There seems to be a stigma around how we use technology.  Many people would make the argument that it’s driving people away from each other.  It doesn’t force us to have IRL interactions.  Everything that we want to do can be done online in some way.  The argument then becomes that kids these days don’t know how to communicate, and they don’t understand what love is.  But is that true?  Is technology changing the way that we love?  Or does technology simply change the way that we interact and “court”, for lack of a better term?

Certainly, there is a whole new rule book on how to find your soul mate, but one anthropologist believes that technology is bringing us closer together.  Not driving us apart.  Helen Fisher believes that faster connections are actually leading to slower, more intimate relationships.  In fact, Fisher describes love as a universal human emotion.  (Also, this is something that McGregor cites in the above video.) In some cases, the desire to love and be loved is stronger than our sex drives; stronger than thirst or hunger, and in some cases stronger than our will to live. Let that one sink in for a moment.

love

Fisher also notes that our ability to love developed when we evolved over 4.4 million years ago.  She suggests that just because we now have Tinder, it doesn’t mean that these things are going to change overnight.  What has changed seemingly overnight is the fact that we have things like Tinder.  Gone are the days of going to a bar to find someone to go home with.  But I’m digressing a bit here.  Technology isn’t going to change who you chose to love or how you chose to love.

So what does technology do?  Well, two things.  To start, technology helps us find someone to love.  Through dating apps like Tinder and OkCupid, you can now find your soul mate relatively easy.  The hard part is when you find out that they live on the other side of the country or world.  Which brings me to my next point – technology can bring us together in ways that it never could before. Especially when geography is a challenge.

love

When my boyfriend and I are in different time zones, for example, I could wake up to a text from him.  A small gesture like that lets me know that he’s thinking about me, and that makes me feel loved. That’s only one small example, but there are many more. My great grandparents got married 100 years ago.  I have love letters that they wrote to each other during their courtship.  It seems strange to me, but they had to write a letter, mail it and wait for the other to get it.  Sometimes this could take days or weeks if the weather was bad.  I have a panic attack thinking about not hearing from my boyfriend for 2 weeks. But that was their reality.  Fortunately, we live in a world where our reality is instantaneous.

While I realize it was a different time, I think it goes to show that technology can bring us together in a way that only helps us develop these relationships.  FaceTime or Skype lets us see each other even when we’re miles apart.  Sometimes my boyfriend records a video for me that I can replay on a day when I’m feeling down and missing him.  All of these things improve our bond, but they wouldn’t exist without technology.  I shouldn’t say they wouldn’t.  It would take more time and development to improve that bond.  But according to Fisher, these fast connections is actually what is keeping that bond strong.

love actually

In some of those letters, my great-grandparents talk about getting together next Sunday, for example.  What if the letter didn’t arrive in time? How would they know that they could see each other next Sunday?  All of these things give me anxiety just thinking about them. Yes, the world was a simpler place then, but at the same time, I think we have this amazing tool that can bring anyone to your face at any time of day or night.  So no, technology hasn’t changed the way that we love.  It’s given us a way to expand our love in a way that my great-grandparents could never have dreamed of.

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