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The anti-social network: outsourcing romance

A recently divorced female friend asked me a seemingly simple question… “How is the dating scene in Atlanta?” I responded, “It’s really easy to meet people but very difficult to weed out the losers and get to know someone of quality and value on a deeper level.” The club/party scene in Atlanta (and I’m told across the country) is basically an elaborate game of Spy vs Spy. People pull up to the valet in cars that they can’t afford, wearing clothes that they plan to return and boasting jobs/businesses that aren’t as impressive as they are being portrayed to be. She then asked me about speed dating, happy hours, and online dating sites. Which prompted me to think… Have we become to “busy” to be social?

I wrote a blog a couple of weeks ago called If you ask me, I’m ready. That post focused on an individual’s responsibility for his/her own loneliness. This post will focus on external barriers to life’s most important goal. A strong, positive, long lasting companionship with another human being.

A few weeks ago I was watching a random documentary about an exiled Black Panther, who has been in Tanzania for the last 30 or so years. In this film, there is a scene where two teenagers from his old neighborhood came to Tanzania on a sponsored trip. The graying Black Panther endearingly asked the boys about a park in Chicago, where all the young people used to hang out, socialize, have picnics and free concerts. They boys looked like at him as if he was speaking a strange foreign language. They replied, “Nah, people don’t do that anymore.” The Black Panther’s fond memories of home were destroyed and a look of sadness and disappoint were clearly visible on his face.

What has changed?

Increasing racial and gender equality has caused us to fully embrace and be embraced into a capitalistic technologically savvy culture. We have become addicted to the instant gratification of all of our wants, needs, and desires. We want every thing as quickly as possible and with the least amount of effort. We have been subjugated by success measurable only by material possessions, which has left our search for a life-long mate secondary to financial accomplishments.

Therefore, it makes sense to us that dating and socializing can be organized, itemized and put into cute readily accessible packages in the same way that everything else in our life. We have traded memorable chance encounters with calculated Facebook stalking. While simultaneously replacing love letters and hours long conversation over soft music and muted light with text messages and a quantifiable list of likes and dislikes. Our robotic world seems to be robbing us of our humanity.

How do we fix it?

I suggest looking to the past to help save our future. We need to re-create the situations that once fostered love and romance in the past, while ceasing the events and attitudes causing separation and elitism in the present. We need to stop viewing each other as a goal and/or means to an end and begin socializing for the joy of being social. A simple face-to-face conversation without intention could be rewarding in ways we cannot imagine

What do you think? When’s the last time you had a conversation with someone without wanting something from him/her or him/her not wanting anything from you? Do you think the days of have free concerts or peace rallies in the park are long gone?

  • Your_Archfoe on January 4, 2011

    Great post. I think it depends on your personality and your contentment. If you’re a well-rounded person that also likes to try different things, you’re naturally eager to venture out of the social norms and experience things that should be considered, well – normal.

    Facebook stalking, always texting and status updating is not normal but we’ve become so comfortable, lazy and content. The best thing to do is realize that these behaviors get you nowhere and perhaps you should change your people, places and things…and do something different. Go to that free concert. Take that painting class. Check out that art festival. Just be willing to try.

  • BAnjeeB on January 4, 2011

    I don’t think that those days are gone, but we have to get out of our own way and start doing them again! Every Fall I look around DC and realize just how much free stuff I didn’t take advantage of because I was too busy, or too tired, or some other lame excuse. I am going to do it this year. No excuses, no B.S. I may not meet the man of my dreams, but I’ll have a better chance there than I will sitting on my couch. 🙂

  • Bird on January 4, 2011

    I have the pleasure of having great conversations and wonderful social encounters with many of my friends without explicitly wanting anything from them. That being said, I recognize that this situation is a rarity. Living in the 21st century, we have convenience at our fingertips. Almost every aspect of life can now be found neatly packaged and readily available to a willing consumer. It makes sense that dating, relationships, and basic socializing have all reached a certain level of convenience as well. Our responsibility is to make well-informed decisions regarding what we choose to do with this “modern convenience”. Personally, I prefer the traditional, somewhat old-school method of meeting friends, potential dates, etc. I have also never been the one to stay home, eyes glued to a computer screen. I live in DC, and I am constantly out and about, enjoying what my city has to offer. Meeting someone via a social network and/or communicating with a person primarily through the use of technology has never appealed to me. I need ACTUAL face time.

    It simply depends on the individual. If you are willing….and you find others who are willing, why not take advantage of the convenience that social networking and technology offers to socializing, dating, and relationships? Companionship and social interaction are basic needs for all humans. It keeps us mentally healthy. In retrospect, the convenient aspect of socialization is not new at all. The mail-order bride business has been booming for decades….

  • Danni on January 5, 2011

    Loved this post!! I’ve become one of those robots… this opened my eyes.

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