Three young men sit at the back of a bar on a Friday night after work. Three beers down, they begin Tindering their way into the night.
One of them shoves his phone into his friend’s face.
“Ay, what do you think? This one?”
“Eh, not bad.” his friend replies.
The two of them get into different cabs. Both are enroute two separate addresses given to them by their newfound Tinder hook-ups. The last guy walks down the street to get his favourite takeout, which he then takes home and eats by himself as FRIENDS plays in the background.
In the digital economy, youngsters seem to be perpetually on the lookout for someone new.
Not only has the marriage rate in Australia drastically been falling since the 1900s, but the median age to get married has been on a steady rise. In the 1950’s, the average age for a woman to get married was 20, and 23 for men. Presently, we sit at an all-time high where women are only considering tying the knot at age 27, and men at 29.
The reasons for this are endless – ranging from capitalism, which pushes one to invest more time in their career to the heightened independence given to women through increased access to education and job opportunities. Pair this with the launch of modern dating apps and a flourishing hook-up culture, the digital sphere has given birth to a generation that is repulsed by commitment to its core.
Not only have dating apps provided a sense of agency to its users, but they have also changed the psychology of online ‘daters’ by introducing a new power dynamic into their dating lives. The definition of modern-day love is to constantly be on the search for something new, and to be able to reject someone based on the type of emojis they use. To be satisfied with choosing one person amongst the myriad of profile photos, biodatas and facial features seems impossible with each incoming swipe.
In a world where the human condition is to be drained by a harsh toxic-productive work culture, dating apps have fulfilled the need of deriving empty pleasure from one’s romantic life. When multiple Prince Charming’s can easily hop about from one Tinderella to the other, and vice versa, putting in the work for “the one” has lost its intrinsic value. Love, as an emotion, has been stripped down to a game of convenience.
But true love requires discipline.
It requires patience.
It requires commitment.
It requires work.
That said, maybe modern-day love isn’t cut out for the idealised version of traditional marriage.
The irrelevance given to marriage may just be an aversion to the foundation of what the institution historically rests on. Putting marriage on the backend, as being a financial transaction or a contract that binds two people together by law, urges them to share finances and build a family together may not entirely be a disadvantage.
The shift in mindset through online dating that allows one to believe that they will be okay without the other, may just be what drives youngsters to succeed. There is, maybe, a sense of power in believing that a woman in the 21st century does not need a certificate of marriage to financially back her up, and that the modern-day man can still progress without the assurance of a woman mothering his children.
The conventional idea of love- being an everlasting force of commitment and togetherness, seems to have gradually shifted in present-day to become a synthetic concept reliant on one’s online profile. Real love, when translated to virtual love, seems to lose most of its vigour and becomes a dumbed-down version of what was otherwise considered to be one of the most electrifying human emotions to exist.
The institution of marriage – which rests on the inseparability of two people, perhaps cannot survive in a century that thrives on a generation of independent individuals right-swiping their way into love.