A friend recently sent me a link to an article entitled “This is how we date now” by Jamie Varon, a somewhat typical post-post-modern, meta-reflection on the vast narcissism of social mediatards. While it’s a sorry indicator of the state of government-funded pseudo-intellectualism, I’m inclined to agree with the superficial sentiments of the author,i even if she wholly neglects, or is perhaps quite unequipped to assess, the dark undercurrents of why things are as they are.
So I’m going to give this painting some colour. Grab your miner’s lamp, we’re going in.
We think intimacy lies in a perfectly-executed string of emoji.
Leaving aside her use of “we” when she means “I,” and also leaving aside Jamie’s dishwater dull definition of “intimacy,” this emoji-as-communication failing is an unfortunate and yet inevitable consequence of our education system’s focus on “visual thinking” in lieu of the far more nuanced written and spoken words.
Trying to relate or convey information to another human being can only happen through the art and science of communication. Granted that communication can be verbal or non-verbal, but on the Internet, in computer times, verbal (including written) communication takes the cake (and wins the girl).ii
This is why Shakespeare, for the last 400 years at least, has proved to be such a useful litmus test for a teenager’s ability to think. That so few teenagers, much less those more senior, “get it” can readily explain at least some measure of this nation’s divorce rate. It’s awfully hard to be persuasive in a culture where physical disciplining of one’s spouse and children is frowned upon while at the same time the faculties of language are nowhere either prized nor taught. It’s no wonder that so many men and women are frustrated by this confusing world. They don’t have the skills to let their emotional genies out of their inarticulate bottles.
We think effort is a “good morning” text.
We can also attribute this “I tried so that’s the same as doing” phenomena to our schooling and parenting systems. There’s no way on God’s Green Earth that Jimmy should get a gold star for “trying” when in fact he scored on his own net 8 times in 12 games. The kid should be banned from all future competitive endeavours and made to shine his former teammates’ cleats until they all graduate high school. Only then is it possible that you and Jimmy will learn the difference between a template text and hand-written poem.
In a relationship, there’s making your partner feel important, valuable and meaningful to you and there’s not doing this at all. There’s no in-between. So no, she isn’t “too hard to please” and, no, “I didn’t have the time” is not an acceptable explanation for your failings. And yes, I do mean your failings. Because that’s what it means when “things didn’t work out.” It means that you failed completely and utterly and of your own accord.
AND THAT’S OKAY! In fact, it’s more than okay. Failing is a wonderful, beautiful, majestic force in the world! Without it, we’d all be like Jimmy, thinking we’re the greatest athletes of our generation because a goal is a goal and we all got gold stars! Failing is information, information that tells us what not to do next time if and only if we accept that we failed.
If we stumble along through life blaming our poverty, loneliness, etc. on “the system” or “the man” or “her” or whatever, then we deserve what we get. Only when we own up to our own personal shortcomings, our own personal mistakes and our own inevitable falters in life can we improve our station, and through this, the lot of the next generation.
We want the beautiful cut of filet mignon, but we’re too busy eyeing the mediocre buffet, because choice. Because choice. Our choices are killing us. We think choice means something. We think opportunity is good. We think the more chances we have, the better. But, it makes everything watered-down.
The issue that Jamie manifests here, surprise surprise, comes back again to poor education. All that the author, and anyone agreeing with her, is saying is that they’re as stupid as a newborn infant and can’t meaningfully discern whether a berry found in the backcountry is poisonous or whether the nearby porcupine feels good to pet.
Yes, the world is full of choices. No, they’re not all fucking equal. Just like everything else in this world, nothing is fucking equal no matter how many times you face west and chant “Hail Mary Of Affirmative Action” or “Praise Be His Holy Foreign Aid.” Again, if we don’t treat children like the holy freaking arbiters of goodness and intelligence, letting them “learn how they want to learn,” and instead smack them in the back of the head when we see them trying to poison/bludgeon themselves, be it with nature or techno-blinders, the world would be a better place.
Opportunity is fantastic – trust me, you don’t want to live in a world without it – but not knowing what to do with it isn’t the opportunity’s fault, it’s yours. Or your parents. Or your lazy, cuckolded, unionised teachers or whatever. But it’s definitely not the opportunity’s fault.
We want simplicity. We want a life that does not need the validation of likes, favorites, comments, upvotes. We may not know yet that we want this, but we do.
But hey, if you don’t like the dating scene and all the complicated hard stuff that comes with freedom, I hear that voluntary slavery is making a comeback.
So, y’know, there’s that.
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- Namely that, from the vicarious experience of still other friends and acquaintances, online dating is a mishapen bag of suck. But hey, not everyone uses university to strike while the iron’s hot. [↩]
- I’m not saying that verbal communication hasn’t always played a role in seduction and other forms of success, sure it has, just that Facetime or Skype or whatever is nowhere near efficient nor precise enough for this role today, when the ocean really is bigger than ever. Not that there are necessarily more edible fish contained therein, but there are definitely more fish! [↩]