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Home » Opinion

Surprise! Sharidan wrote another editorial!

Submitted by on March 1, 2014 – 2:44 pm

Editorial cartoon for the February 2014 issue of the Salishian Tri-Quarterly drawn by senior Tegan Bauer.

There is a rather common image of the 1950s dating scene.  The T-Bird approaches the Pink Lady and asks her if she wants to “go steady,” the two then attend a drive in movie and go to a malt shop. The “yawn and put your arm around her” move originated here, as did the majority of dating precedents that carried through the 20th century.

There is also a rather common image of the 2010s dating scene. This includes a series of events that happen through technology. Late night texts have replaced perfume-scented love notes, “in a relationship” on Facebook has replaced “going steady” and Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake from Friends With Benefits have replaced Doris Day and Rock Hudson from Pillow Talk.

So what caused this transition? Social changes have certainly led to this new American society, but the creation of technology has also made its impact on human relationships. Portable phones and computers, however efficient for work, have made face to face conversations utterly obsolete.

It is quite a phenomenon that humans have become a part of in the past twenty or so years that constitute the “digital age.” It is easier to press send on a text message that reads “i love u” than it is to say those crucial words to another persons face.

This idea may be one the millennial generation’s grandparents struggle to fathom, but one that is becoming completely normal for teenagers. Relationships are built and maintained on the Internet. The deterioration of human contact is a result of a society that is becoming more and more dependent on multimedia. Today, 91 percent of the American population uses cell phones; on October 11, 2012, the world population hit its six billionth cell phone subscription, according to the International Telecommunications Union.

The reason these numbers persist is because of our society’s insatiable need for instant gratification. We got tired of waiting at restaurants for our meals so fast food chains like McDonald’s became a necessity to the livelihood of many, we got tired of making plans and waiting for mail so we kowtow to texting. Faster means better to humans today, and whatever is lost in translation is a peripheral matter to those who worship efficiency.

This is exactly the problem. In these matters, when more speed is introduced more of the crucial parts are also lost. Consider again fast food restaurants. So often these enterprises are criticized by Americans because of the lack of vital nutrients the food gives their customers. Nevertheless, how could one expect McDonald’s to produce a well-balanced meal in the limited amount of time that they are given, while keeping their American identity?

The same happens in the case of new communications. This ability to converse quickly might provide a similar instant gratification to that of a McDonald’s cheeseburger but it is missing the nutrients necessary to carry on a close personal relationship. Things that were once huge milestones in a relationship, such as saying “I love you” have deteriorated to meaningless and grammatically incorrect status updates, and in some cases, two little symbols that create a heart.

It’s an easy issue to identify but a difficult one to solve. The fact is, in the digital era we cannot expect people to give up their technology in lieu of building relationships the way their grandparents did. In all honesty, these new forms of technology are not the problem, human reaction to it is. Thus, the solution is to make personal decisions that change this reaction. People must decide to remember that the person who they’re having a conversation with is, infact, another living human being, not just a screen. The age of T-birds, Pink Ladies and drive in movies may be over, but the age of true human relationships is not.