Technology puts new spin on romance, redefines dating
Published: Sunday, February 17, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 17, 2013 23:02
The scene is familiar: candle light, food and romance. It’s date night, and nervous laughter and quick glances are traded over the tabletop. The night seems to be going well, though the couple doesn’t talk much or really even look at each other. Little screens aglow, their phones seem to be doing most of the entertaining, replacing words with emojis and awkwardness with apps.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this generation’s evolving dating habits, but with advancing technology and social media, increased usage of phones and computers are often assumed to be the main culprit. According to Professor Brian Altenhofen of the Communications Department, interactions are becoming less personal in the modern world of dating.
“Texting and social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have moved us away from more intimate communication,” Altenhofen said. “For instance, face-to-face interaction, that’s a lot more intimate than texting. There are a lot more people we connect with but not necessarily with depth.”
Texting has become a huge presence in the world of dating, making it possible to stay connected 24/7 and allotting time for thorough and calculated responses. Leandra Hernandez, communications doctoral student, said she believes texting has both helped and hindered relationships and dating.
“[Texting] adds an immediacy and a whole other avenue to get close to another person if you can’t see them physically,” Hernandez said. “I think it can also distance people in the way that it can lead to a lot of distractions.”
Carl Craven, junior aerospace engineering major, said texting allows couples to do more outside of dating while still keeping in touch.
“It’s a lot easier to do other stuff while having a relationship,” Craven said. “But it can also be kind of distracting when you actually go on dates.”
Hernandez said she believes some couples can become too dependent on texting, and will avoid face-to-face communication.
“I think it can become a crutch to where you just text the person and you don’t have to call them, so I think sometimes messages and meanings can get lost in translation when you’re texting versus actually talking on the phone,” Hernandez said.
According to a survey conducted by Pew Internet & American Life Project in 2011, 31 percent of American adults preferred communication via text rather than phone. It also said that adults between the ages of 18 and 24 send an average of 109.5 text messages per day.
Grant Mckay, communications doctoral student, said context and tone are lost in the maze of texts, which can lead to numerous miscommunications.
“If you’re telling a joke and you’re having a sarcastic response, when you vocalize that, it’s obvious that you’re just kidding,” McKay said. “But that doesn’t play on text messages — You can’t pick out a sarcastic font.”
Since texting doesn’t involve direct confrontation, Craven said that texting takes the pressure and some of the awkwardness away from asking girls out.
“It’s hard to go up to someone, not knowing if they like you, and ask them on a date,” Craven said.
Texting isn’t the only technological advancement that has affected the realm of romance. With the various social networking sites popular today, it seems as though many young adults have taken to habitually updating peers on their love lives.
“There’s this idea when you’re on Facebook to define this identity with your partner by posting a million pictures and saying you’re in a relationship with them,” Hernandez said. “I think it makes it easier to communicate and can be a place holder for pictures and stuff like that but on the other hand it sure can exasperate things.”
Kat Hinson, junior theater and English major, said sites such as Facebook can make relationships more shallow, portraying people in a forced light.
“I think [social media] allows people to create a false image of themselves,” Hinson said. “They’re not generally an accurate portrayal [of who people are].”
Mckay said he believes that while Facebook and texting both have numerous pros and cons, they are here to stay, and will continue to alter how people communicate and present themselves.
“[Social media] is a tool,” Mckay said. “It can be used for good or bad. It can be good for strong relationships to stay connected and damaging to others that probably wouldn’t last long-term anyway.”