Netflix and chill: Technology’s impact on teen romance

Sabrina Dong

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Ding Ding. Your phone buzzes, the screen lights up in the corner of your eye. Your hands tremble as you hastily grab the device and see a notification. Scrambling to open the lock on your phone, you see the message appear: Heyy. You bite your lip and your heart races with anticipation as you stare at three dancing dots underneath the message. Your special someone is typing. The dots continue to jump, and they seem to bounce forever. Just when you think the text would never come: Ding Ding. A small gray text bubble springs onto the screen. Netflix and Chill?

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This is a snapshot of a modern day teenage romance, where you can blow kisses with emojis and send a representation of all of your love with just two characters: <3. Technology and media have woven their way into every aspect of our daily lives, from our school and work to our personal relationships, quickening the pace of our lifestyles and dating lives. Although it is important that we keep adapting to our ever-improving technological world, we need to maintain the old sense of romanticism.

In an age when everyday objects like our phones and computers are constantly changing, we are losing a sense of permanence. This creates a continuous attitude of  “out with the old and in with the new” that has led to a generation which resists most traditional ideas, including those about relationships. While it’s good to keep evolving in all aspects in life, including our relationships, the increase in casual hookups could prove harmful to our generation by preventing us from forming connections deeper than the physical level and contributing to the objectification of people’s bodies.

Casual hookups have become increasingly prevalent in our culture, while the percentage of people entering long-term monogamous relationships has decreased. According to a Pew Research study, the percentage of adults who have never been married has increased immensely in the last half-century. In 1960, only 8 percent of women and 10 percent of men had never been married, while in 2012, the numbers increased to 17 percent and 23 percent for unmarried women and men, respectively. In total, one in five of adults ages 25 or older had never been married.

While the percentage of unmarried people has increased, the number of online dating websites developed and the use of texting has also increased. The way we can easily come into contact with one another has made communication rapid and has in turn sped up the pace of our love lives. Texting has become a highly preferable way to communicate, creating a fast-paced social dynamic and a generation of children who can stay constantly connected.

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According to the recent Pew Research study, although talking to a crush in person is the preferred method to convey interest, 63 percent of teens with dating experience reported sending flirtatious messages to their love interests. For many of the friends I talk to, texting is usually the first step in really getting to know their crushes. A recent Bark survey showed that the majority of Redwood teens spend one to two hours texting every day, on average. This rapid form of communication translates into relationships that are just as fast. Moving faster, people no longer feel that it is necessary to be emotionally involved with somebody to sexually engage, lending to the rise of the casual hookup.

This can be harmful to our generation because as casual hookups become more prevalent, we start to lose the deep connection and romanticism that comes with being in a committed relationship. The best relationships in our lives, the ones we’ll remember most fondly, will be the ones in which we take the time to relate to them on an emotional level. With the increasing popularity of casual hookups, we risk losing those experiences.

Furthermore, casual hookups and sex create an environment where we objectify each other. When we engage in these uncommitted or unemotional hookups we subconsciously reinforce the idea that others’ bodies are for personal gratification, which could make it harder to form more meaningful relationships. In addition to running the risk of contracting STDs, people also risk losing respect from their love interests. A report by the US National Library of Medicine in 2012 titled “Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review” detailed a web-based study of undergraduate students in which 20.8 percent reported having a loss of respect for the other person after a casual sexual encounter.

Although we’re constantly adapting and improving the efficiency and pace of dating, we can’t lose the sense of romanticism and deep connection of the past. We should maintain the idea of meaningful relationships fostered with love and respect for the other person and free of objectification, not solely physical relationships.