These days, we’re always connected to everybody, all the time. We’re forced to see people we’d rather ignore, because they’re online for all of eternity. You can’t unfriend them, because you want
them to see how amazing your life is to be mature, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re trying to look at their faces 24/7, either.
Even if you avoid checking up on a particularly regrettable but unforgettable former flame on Facebook, he still pops up on your radar from time to time, be it on Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram, Vine, or some other new social media outlet, as they seem to be emerging daily. After all, when you were together you were basically encouraged to stalk, so Facebook is convinced you’re still interested in exactly what he’s doing all the time. You figure if you stop lurking, he’ll disappear into cyberspace, never to be seen again (except at the bar next weekend).
Now, everyone’s always accessible — available. You send an iMessage, and know the exact time the recipient reads it. If you’re smart you’ve turned that feature off, so a lot of guys still haven’t. You know if someone’s not snapchatting you back, which is ridiculous, because that picture was adorable. You even know the second someone reads a Facebook message you may have been better off not sending, so you can’t even pretend it never happened, regardless of whether or not you are borderline blackout.
In the very distant past, dating existed because you needed to contact someone in advance — make plans — to assure you’d get it in later. Now, a midnight text is sent, a location is secured, and mistakes are made. Before texting, people had to plan their mistakes when they were still sober. Our cell phones bring bad decisions to our fingertips, activated with the push of a button. Your drunk decisions seem so perfect, until you wake up next to them in the morning and can’t quite remember what was so charming about them the night before.
Dating has practically ceased to exist in the digital age. Drunken hookups are the norm, but we’re still expected to date like actual adults. After all, when you’re home people ask, “Are you seeing anyone?” not “Who are your favorite shack shirts coming from these days?”
Now Tinder is all the rage, but do we have to turn to technology because we’re so glued to it to begin with? It used to be easier to meet someone because actual human interaction was expected before texting, tweeting, and just generally staring at a phone existed. Even when you’re with a group of friends, you may be waiting for a boy to text, checking your Instagram feed, or updating your Facebook status instead of paying attention to the actual human beings around you, and your sisters are actually pretty fabulous. Our digital obsession means we don’t have to talk to strangers in real life, and a new app comes out every day to ensure we don’t even have to talk to our friends.
Dating in the digital age means that you can contact someone in a dozen different ways. That can be great if you’re trying to make sure that guy you met isn’t a murderer, confirm which fraternity he’s in, and try to figure out exactly who your Eskimo sisters might be, but it can be rough when an ex is involved. After all, if you summon someone with a midnight text, that
relationship horrible life decision doesn’t have to exist in your rational brain. This seems great when it’s happening, because you can blame your bad decisions on your ridiculous level of intoxication, but not so much afterwards. A drunken mistake doesn’t have to tell you it’s over, since it was never anything to begin with. Suddenly, you’re left imagining all the best comebacks you’ll never get to say.
So, we continue to make drunken mistakes that are only accessible via technology, because that’s how our special, generational version of dating works. We believe that grinding, wasted hookups, “talking,” and late-night booty calls are completely normal, so how are we expected to suddenly start casually dating like they did in all the ’90s sitcoms we adore. We’re the GIRLS generation. This isn’t your parents’ courtship.
In the past, when you wanted to erase someone from your life, you never had to see them again. Now, not only are we tied together emotionally, but through technology. They’re always there. You know what they’re listening to. You know the games they’re playing (both Candy Crush and the mental ones, of course). You know they’re not texting you, because their number is still in your phone. The computer age means there will never be closure. Not even close.