Instant love and instant sex*

July 3, 2012 § 4 Comments

*originally appeared on my news24 column on  2011-05-31 14:05

There’s a great and funny scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown with Robert De Niro and Bridget Fonda in the kitchen. Bridget Fonda’s character is showing De Niro’s character pictures stuck on a fridge and he pretends to be interested. Bridget Fonda then turns to him and nonchalantly says, “Wanna fuck?” interrupts De Niro mid-sentence.

He is slightly perplexed but doesn’t show that he is. You can almost hear the silent stutter on his face as he tries to answer. He says, “Yeah”. Three minutes later they are done. There was no warning that the event could happen, especially since the woman in question is someone else’s girlfriend, a very dangerous Samuel L Jackson. Now, there’s an example of instant sex.

Social media has given rise to the instantisation of everything. Yes. Even love. Where do I get that from? Allow me to put my theory forward please.

A very long time ago, in the early ages of the previous century and before that, when lovers lived in different parts of the country, letters took forever to reach the intended recipient. They took weeks and sometimes months if the lovers were in different countries or continents.

When writing a letter back then, it would have been very well considered, well-written and articulate because the lovers wouldn’t have seen each other in months. Absence and the scarcity of communication resulted in lovers creating perceptions of their lovers that may not have been real over time, but it worked. As a recent study has shown, lovers who have an unrealistic view of their loved one tend to have longer lasting relationships than those who do not. There were of course fewer divorces back then as well, but that could have been a result of the fact that society frowned on divorce.

Social media breeds familiarity terribly quickly. Thus instant love and instant sex. In the past one could be very well considered when writing a letter and create a different perception of who they are. In the era of Instant Messages, BBM, Skype and Twitter status updates all that is instant, one is able to gauge what the other person is really like; their thought process, morality or lack thereof can be deciphered quickly without having to write insipid love letters. This is not to say that there are no psychos who can pretend they are who they are not. I am not that naïve.

When people wrote a letter in eras gone by, they would re-rewrite just to make sure that the letters were not misunderstood. They wanted to come across as clear and as romantic as possible and in that moment of solitude, one was able to give one’s emotions fully to a piece of paper as if they were writing on their lover’s skin itself. There was solitude and patience. Nowadays people shun and fear solute. Even when they are alone, they are with the world; thanks to Twitter. Patience is not seen as a virtue. But these days we want people to respond to what we say immediately. When a BBM is delivered, we expect a response in seconds. It’s hard to fake your personality in seconds as hundreds of messages could be sent between two people in a day. It’s remarkable what one can tell about some people by just their BBM status updates and the kinds of pictures they choose to put. Especially those who wear their hearts on their status updates.

Since people no longer have to wait for weeks for a response, they are able to get the psyche of another person sooner. Like I said earlier, social media breeds familiarity. People become familiar and comfortable with strangers much faster than they would have in the past. Maybe it is perceived comfort. So people fall in love over instant messages with people they have only met digitally. Another study said that people who are able to write well are much more likely to get laid on Social Media. My apologies to those who did not pay attention in English class.

People fall in love faster because emotions are fingertips away. Everything is compressed. Because social media makes people feel comfortable quicker, they may also give it up quicker. This is not to say they are giving “it” up more easily. It just means that the screening process is faster. It is more compressed because people interact with a lot more people now than they used to in the past, thanks to social media. We answer more e-mails in a day than people in the past would have replied to letters in a month. Don’t get me started on Whatsapp, BBMs and the likes.

This is a counter argument I have after I read an article with the title: “Is Dating Dead? Less commitment and more ‘hookups’ but also more virgins: The new face of sex and relationships among young adults.” The article claimed that 72% of young adults choose “hook ups” over relationships. I wrote about this in an article called Love in a time of friends with benefits.

People are generally flirting with a number of people at the same time online, according to studies. Since they are doing so, this also means that it is a process of elimination. It’s like Idols for getting laid. Someone starts chatting to you and then they realise you are not the kind of person they want in their pants, you will notice this by the fact that they start chatting less. They might have zeroed in on the person they feel most comfortable with, someone who shares their world view.

Does this mean people are just looser than in the past? No, it just means that the process is faster than it was in the past. It is understandable why some people from a bygone era would think that people are more liberal now than they were then. They are not. Everything is instantly available to them, love, sex, except for money.

They are searching for love. Some may say in all the wrong places. But there are no wrong places to search for love. The only wrong perhaps is to completely give up on love and just search for instant sex. Then you are searching for an empty existence.

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