In Defense of Millennials: Why Texting & Social Media Make Us Better at Dating
By Chiara Atik forHowAboutWe
It's not easy (or pleasant, or lucrative, or enviable) to be a millennial, at least according to the mainstream media narrative. Take a look at the New York Times on any given weekend and you'll find page after page tsk-tsking the foibles of our generation - we're doomed when it comes to dating, feckless with our finances, unambitious and underachieving when it comes to everything else.
But as a millennial, I see these pieces as nothing more than an exaggerated fiction, sprinkled with granules of truth. Yes, forging into adulthood after the cocoon of college and starting to create a life for yourself is riddled with frustrations and fuck-ups. That's always been the case. But when you look at the big picture, millennials are in a uniquely great position to create the lives they want, with advantages and opportunities that other generations would envy.
Throughout the next week, we'll be making the case for millennials. and showing why being one is actually a massive stroke of luck, at least as it pertains to dating and relationships. As much as we're cast (and, just as often, self-deprecatingly cast ourselves) as dysfunctional when it comes to love, we're sitting on a goldmine of perks (and freedoms) that belong to us and us alone.
Today, we'll be discussing technology, which gives millennials power, even if it simultaneously drives us crazy.
Nowadays, people love to blame technology for the perceived lack of monogamy among millennials: we're too busy surfing online profiles and texting 20 people to commit.
Plus:Is The Internet Turning Men into Serial Dating Machines?
But here's the thing: while some may abuse or misuse them, the technological advances of the new millennium create a new universe of freedoms when it comes to relationships.
Take cellphones, which have completely altered the dating plane (not to mention the way we conduct life in general.)
In previous decades, expecting a phone call from a romantic interest, or a significant other, or even a spouse meant literally waiting at home by the phone. Millennials may identify with the frustrating anticipation of waiting for someone to call. But not once do we have to put our lives on hold to be available for a phone call. The man or woman you like can call while you're at work, at the gym, even on another date. In other words, communication with a romantic interest doesn't have to take precedence (or antecedence) over any other aspect of life.
Cellphones also leave tremendous room for spontaneity. You can find yourself in someone's neighborhood and invite them for a drink. You can suddenly give someone an extra ticket, or find instant plans on a free Friday night.
"Bianca:even the idea of setting up a date and not having a phone to text when you get there and confirm they're coming seems really stressful"
Plus:The Cost of Staying Single (Hint: It Could Be in the Millions!)
And text messages! Think of the fun Pablo Neruda would have had with text messages. A text message is extended foreplay, sustained flirtation; it's practical, it's enticing, it allows you to speak with forethought, to respond at your leisure, to reach someone at all hours, to follow-up, to risk rejection with minimal embarrassment, to simply say "hello" and nothing more. It hasn't taken the place of telephone calls or face-to-face interaction, it's merely given MILLENNIALS another level of communication. Sure, we may spend hours trying to analyze a text message. But surely our ancestors felt equally frustrated decoding letters, notes, and telegrams- particularly after waiting weeks, or even months, to receive them in the first place. Miscommunication and ambiguity weren't invented by millennials - we just have an easier way of broadcasting them.
"Lauren:i think [technology] helped us weed through potential people way faster as welllike, you say 'oh want to be set up on blind date with xx?' and i google and say, 'no, his profile pic is ugly/his job is stupid/he misused you're in a tweet' BAM just saved from blind date."
And then there's Facebook. Facebook has revolutionized millennial dating by changing the paradigm for knowing people, period. Your social network is now limitless, and you don't need a rolodex to keep track of it (or a little black book to find a date). Plus, anyone you meet is someone you can find again. If you don't get her number at the end of the party, you can look her up. If you want to see if he's single, you can see his relationship status. If he's flirting with other girls, you can detect the evidence on his wall. The average millennial has 300 Facebook friends - that's 300 people with whom to instantly connect, or in some cases-reconnect.
"Christopher: i went on a date with a girl from okc
who i was moderately interested inand we had a good date, hugged goodbye havent seen her since but we're meeting up again this weeki friended her on fb last nightand suddenlyshes the girl of my dreams lolshes a writer and i read her writings and saw more photos and saw her status updatesand was totally smitten"
Which brings us to online dating. Before the era of public profiles, your dating pool was limited to the people directly within your social circle. If you didn't meet through school, work, setups, or (even more rarely) by kismet, you didn't meet at all. Online dating has harnessed the power of the internet into an efficient way for young people to meet potential partners. It doesn't necessarily make finding a perfect relationship easier, but at least you're not constricted to date the same group of people.
Plus:10 Reasons Why Courtship Isn't (Or Shouldn't Be) Dead
In other words, Because of the internet, millennials have an exponentially larger dating pool than any generation that came before.
"Patrick:I owe most of my success to technologyas somebody who is very shytechnology was critical"
And it's not just that technology gives us more options of who to date: we also have a variety of ways in which to woo. The shy guy who hates approaching girls at bars can use IMs to express his wit. The woman who works from home and never sees anyone but her goldfish can go online and find compatible partners in her neighborhood. Former high-school sweethearts can find each other on Facebook and rekindle an old flame. And the couple who would never, ever have met were it not for online dating can discover each other.
The best part: millennials not only have access to all this life-changing technology - they're using it to pursue a fulfilling love life. 25-34 year-olds will send an average of 42 texts a day - text messages which often facilitate face-to-face interactions, flirtations, dates, etc. (Older generations may frown at a 10 PM booty call, but it's better than the 10 PM in your room alone.)
Whether it takes a million first dates, or a simple one, to find someone worth sticking to depends on factors that have nothing to do with age or generation. That a million first dates are even, for the first time, within the realm of possibility is something worth celebrating. A million chances at finding love, when previous generations were lucky to have one. Point 1 for the millennials.