Gen Z: A dating culture that’s actually dateless

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Emma Shek

Assistant Opinion Editor Marin Klein writes that technology has made it difficult to have authentic relationships in Generation Z.

Marin Klein, Assistant Opinion Editor

“Hey”

“Hey!”

“What’s up?”

“Nothing much, hbu?”

Everyone knows how this conversation goes. That moment when you get a notification and that one person’s name shows up on your screen. Why do we get so excited over these dull conversations? I know I’ve gotten butterflies in my stomach seeing a certain name on snapchat, only to receive a picture of their ceiling.

Our generation has grown up very differently than the ones before us, thanks to the easy access to technology we’ve had since we were little.  It’s become a part of our daily lives. We’ve escaped the pressure of talking to someone we like face-to-face, and instead, send a text or picture that leaves us filled with anxiety. Snapchat is our generation’s form of a love language.

We need to find a way to get off our phones and have a genuine connection with someone.”

As a hopeless romantic, our generation’s “dating” culture feels like the worst possible scenario. To even call it dating culture is a stretch. Advancing from Snapchat to texting has somehow become some sort of relationship milestone. That’s pretty sad when we think about it. We interpret a picture of their full face or a conversation revolving around small talk as a symbol of admiration. We spend too much time obsessing over the exclamation point that isn’t usually there. The “Hey, you up?” text is not exactly the epitome of romance, but it sure feels like it sometimes. Perhaps our expectations have gotten way too low.

I don’t mean to make it seem like there are no authentic relationships in our generation; there are. Still, these relationships start out with awkward texts back and forth. I have watched my friends in relationships that began from a single Snapchat, that soon transferred to text, then Facetime, and suddenly they are a couple. Some of these do develop into great, strong relationships. However, despite these successful relationships, most of our generation is stuck inside the mindset of hookup culture; maybe meeting up once, and then ignoring that it even happened. What happened to in-person conversations, or ice cream and mini-golf with the person you like?

It also seems that some of our generation often can’t differentiate between legitimate feelings from a desire to fit in. When we see all our friends have a “thing” with someone, we scramble to have one as well. Usually, we just end up talking to multiple people and lose the ability to form a genuine connection with just one person. Sometimes the most you become is just a “thing,” because god-forbid the other 10 people you’re talking to think you’re in an actual relationship. It’s almost as if it is a competition to see who can have the most people interested in them, but not actually pursue anything with any of them.

Is Gen Z's dating culture too inauthentic?

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I am a huge fan of old school romance and spend so much time watching old rom-coms. In those movies, you can watch the character’s cute and amusing love stories. Why is that so unwanted by our generation? Have we simply become too afraid of breaking out of our technological comfort zone? I constantly find myself wondering how we have strayed so far. 

We need to find a way to get off our phones and have a genuine connection with someone. Just continually Snapchatting someone means absolutely nothing. It may start that way, but why stop there? Let’s progress it. Have a conversation, or try to make plans with them, even if nothing comes from it. Why can’t we steer our dating culture away from hookups and pictures of their wall, and find a way to make actual connections with the people we like?