Four romantic staples that modern technology has put six feet under.
By Rachael Seamands Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
Watching old 80s movies is a favorite past time of mine.
I have always loved the fashion, the slang and the Brat Pack. Watching Judd Nelson, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe and friends maneuver their way through the ups and downs of relationships casts the whole prospect of dating in a different light.
Next to the romance and heartache seen in the cinemagic of John Hughes, millennial dating leaves something to be desired. For a hopeless romantic, swiping right on Tinder doesn’t exactly mirror John Cusack standing outside the window with a boombox. After trying and failing to participate in a relationship like Ferris Bueler and Sloane Peterson’s, I realized guys don’t jump on parade floats and serenade your city.
For millennial and future generations, dating will never be the same for several reasons.
1. Instant Communication
Gone are the days when talking to your love interest meant waiting by the phone for them to call, and praying that your mom or dad wouldn’t answer before you did.
Waiting does not exist for millennials; if you miss him, you send him a text and tell him for the third time that day. If you want to meet up for drinks, you text her the time and location. You can passive-aggressively hint that your Snapchat of watching TV with “bored” as the caption means that you’re looking to go out.
Before this accessibility existed, you had to wait for school the next day to see the guy or girl you just lost sleep over. Sure, there was note passing and that ever-annoying game of telephone in the hallways. You could get a tap on the shoulder and receive a note from the guy in the back asking you to check “yes” or “no” to be a prom date.
Somehow, there is something much less romantic about a text reading, “Hey babe, wyd Sat nite?” Call me crazy, but I would check “no” to that proposal. If you want to get a date, however, texts like these and winking emojis are what go for romance these days. It’s a sad truth to which we’ve become accustomed, and so the text thread continues.
2. Relationship Statuses
When Danny gave Sandy his ring in “Grease,” the gesture was meant to be a declaration of love and devotion, regardless of any intentions that he might have had about getting lucky at the drive-in. My parents and their friends exchanged class rings, and when you wore your sweetheart’s ring, you were an item.
When I was in high school, it was all about the sweatshirts and the letterman jackets. Wearing around a football jersey of a player on game day was a right of passage reserved for girlfriends and prospective flings. Facebook was in its heyday, and while both Twitter and Instagram were on the rise, relationship statuses were exclusive to Facebook.
For millennials with parents that were overly protective (me), and reluctant to let their kids join the world of Facebook during high school (me), getting to wear the soccer jacket with their boyfriend’s last name written across the back in big white letters was the ultimate thrill. For the guy, it was a big move to hand over the spirit wear that cost your parents $50. After all, they most likely wouldn’t get it back.
The class rings and clothing exchange has become a thing of the past; these days, anyone who’s anyone is on social media, and their profile pictures or avatars show very clearly who they’re taking to homecoming. Granted, it might change within the next week, but the photos will be updated before you can hit refresh.
3. Date Nights
When I first started hanging out with guys, my parents used to ask if we were “going together.” I would say, “Going where together?” Going together was their way of saying dating.
When my parents were kids and their parents were kids, dating was a much different activity. You would go on multiple dates with different people, and you wouldn’t be totally exclusive until you were girlfriend and boyfriend. In this day and age, it seems like the only time you really aren’t exclusive with each other is when you are going out on group dates and just getting to know each other, or “hanging out.”
After that, when dates become just the two of you, you better not be seeing anyone else on the side, at least not after going on more than a couple dates. Exclusivity and monogamy come much more quickly now than they used to. I don’t have very many friends who say they are going to the movies with Jake on Wednesday and then dinner with Ben the following Friday.
Maybe this really is because we don’t have enough time to stalk more than one person on their Twitter or Instagram feed. Maybe this obsession with social media is what leads to the whole “one man or woman for me” kind of life.
I like to think that it is a little more romantic than that, seeing as romance can be somewhat scarce when it comes to Tinder hook-ups and other dating sites. Don’t get me wrong; a lot of real relationships are formed from joining dating websites. It makes sense to fill out information about yourself and then find out who would be compatible with you. It saves time.
But, there really is no such thing as a blind date anymore. If you are scheduled to meet with John Smith over drinks tonight, chances are you’re already looking him up on as many social media sites as you can.
Even break-ups are different. Thanks to social media, when you break up with someone, you can still know what they are up to every day for the rest of their life.
Who hasn’t stalked their ex-girlfriend or boyfriend on Instagram after a bad break up to make sure there isn’t a new fling in that new profile picture? Who hasn’t posted a selfie with a new girl or guy on Snapchat to make an ex jealous?
In simpler times, you had to wait until you got to school to see them holding hands with someone else before crying your eyes out. Nowadays even the smallest details tell stories, from the liking of a status update to the retweet of a particularly suggestive nature.
Social media sites also give the angry break-upee the opportunity to post publicly about private details surrounding the break up, whether they are true or not. Call me old fashioned, but I would rather keep that kind of drama private. Privacy, it seems, is more and more difficult to come by as technology advances.
While it might be time to say goodbye to waiting by the phone or counting the hours until you get to go back to school and see your boyfriend, there are ways in which we can hold on to more romantic dating rituals. Instead of pulling up Tinder or Grindr, try heading to the local coffee shop and talking to someone while you’re waiting in line. Leave the texting for when you’re home alone, and actually get to know the people sitting around you in the classroom.
Plus, that cute girl reading Robert Frost in the corner of the bookstore might be really interested in how much you pretend to love “The Road Not Taken.”