Relationships: Not An App For ThatEssays, Featured — By Emily Timbol on May 27, 2010 at 9:00 am
There is a conversation I am very tired of having. It seems to be occurring a lot lately with more and more friends of mine, and always seems to end the same way (usually with alcohol, which I’m fine with.) It starts with the question, “Why am I still single?” and ends with the answer, “It’s not your fault.” Which begs the question, who’s fault is it?
Despite what Cosmo might tell my friends, the answer to why they are still single is not that they need to lose 10 pounds and brush up on their man baiting skills. Most of my single friends are extremely attractive, funny, intelligent, and very fun to be around. They aren’t pathetic and desperate, and the only reason I’m tired of having this conversation is because I can’t seem to understand why, in the large co-ed group we have, so many of them cannot seem to find a date.
I know it’s popular to blame everything, from brain tumors to the downfall of Lindsay Lohan’s career, on technology, but I think for my friends, the electronic age has become a romantic hindrance. I believe that the reason more than half of my friends in their late twenties to early thirties are unhappily single is directly related to our generational and cultural fascination with convenience.
Our lives are filled with electronic conveniences. If we want to see a movie, we click two buttons on the remote and watch it. If we want to know what any of our friends are doing, we can text them and know within seconds (or let’s be honest, stalk them on Facebook.) If we want car insurance, a pizza, sex, a college degree, or pretty much anything, we can do it all from our computers. Actually, we don’t even need a computer, we can just do it from our phones. If we need to leave our houses for something and drive somewhere, chances are there is a drive-thru, so we don’t need to get out of the car. Dry cleaning, food, alcohol, a Las Vegas wedding: all things we can do without leaving the comfort of our cars.
In many ways, the world we grew up in functioned to create things that made our lives easier (for the right price.) We grew up believing what we were told by the things we watched and the messages we heard: that we were entitled to have whatever we wanted whenever we wanted it. We were lucky enough to grow up in an age where, even if we were “poor,” we still most likely had a TV, a car, air conditioning, the Internet, and access to education. We (and our parents) worked and lived to avoid pain, conflict, and frustration.
The problem is, relationships are filled with pain, conflict, and frustration. No matter how often we poke someone on Facebook, tweet them on Twitter, or text them on our Blackberrys, technology cannot take away the difficulty in maintaining a relationship with someone we care about. Relationships are one of the few things left for people of my generation that there is not an app for.
Really, what we are after with every purchase is happiness. People do not wait in a line outside the Apple store for two days because they really need a badly named giant iPhone. They do it because they are making a purchase that on some level, they hope will make their life better. And for many people in my generation, entering into a relationship with another person is viewed just like a purchase. In a time where your computer, phone, and car become outdated every year or so, it makes sense to wait and see for what’s newer and better before buying. But when you view a person as just another thing to “buy” to increase your quality of life, you will never be satisfied. It’s not a matter of settling for whatever comes along, but of expectation. People are not in our lives for our convenience and happiness. It is a lie to believe that there is “the one” with whom a relationship with will be easy, magical, and not require work.
While I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if all my friends (and me) suddenly had to function without smartphones, Facebook, Twitter, or the Internet, I don’t think that’s necessary in order for us to find relationships that last. Like that quote I saw on someone’s page says, “nothing worthwhile is easy.” Relationships are not easy. They are work, they are hard, and they aren’t about us. That’s whose fault it is. Us. The generation “me” who so often has a hard time thinking about anyone but ourselves. Until we are ready to put someone else’s needs, wants, and convenience first, we’re never going to be able to make relationships work. Because ultimately, trying to find a person who makes everything else in your life better, is the same as trying to find an Apple product that won’t be outdated in a year: impossible. There is no perfect person, there’s only that person who you decide is worth the work.
The good news is, while we wait for them, there is Farmville.