Valentine’s Day is upon us again, and once again the cynic within is poised to find evidence that love is doomed in America. And if not doomed, then at least destined to be a more pathetic, superficial version of what poets have been clamoring onto for eons.
Of course, we are now living in the age of Facebook and Tumblr. Never have we been so hyper-connected. We live our lives so publicly, each of us the star in our own reality show. If you believe you are immune to the Internet’s wide reach and white-knuckled grasp, then just think back to the last time you Instagrammed a picture of your meal (everyone’s done it!).
So does all this digital connectivity bode well for love, or does it sound love’s final death knells?
Well, the answer is a little complicated. On one hand it does seem that every day there is a new celebrity breakup that goes viral on YouTube or a scandal involving someone being careless with their Twitter account. And let’s not forget about how easy it is to publicly shame a cheater via social media (remember when that guy was caught bragging about his multiple affairs and someone posted his picture on Facebook?).
In the Internet Age, the concept of true and lasting love can be pretty hard to find. You could argue that it is not necessarily the Internet’s fault that people cheat or break up; we are just exposed to it much more than we used to be. Point taken. But certainly all this exposure does not help with our destiny to eventually find love.
However, there is pretty compelling evidence that the Internet has actually brought a lot of people together. According to USA Today more than one third of marriages within the last decade can be attributed to online dating. This comes from a survey of 19,000 people who married between 2005 and 2012. The study also found that these marriages seem to be happier than marriages conceived offline, which points to one advantage of online datin: the ability to find people with similar interests without the limits and obstacles of location.
While we still hear about online dating horrors and hoaxes (Manti Teâo, anyone?), the fact is the whole thing has become increasingly popular and accepted. According to Pew Research most Americans say online dating is a good way to meet people and about one in five adults has used it.
And it’s not just dating that has increasingly moved online. Intimacy has too. Adam and Eve recently conducted a survey of 1,000 men and women and they found that many of them have sent or received sexually explicit texts or photos. As Adam and Eve “sexpert” Dr. Kat Van Kirk put it, “Sexting, for better or for worse, is here to stay.” Despite numerous sexting scandals and embarrassments, more and more adults are partaking in the practice while apps like SnapChat have endeavored to make it more secure.
So what does this mean for love? Well, we don’t know (yet). What I can say for sure is that this Valentine’s Day I will be sending every one of my contacts a corny V-Day emoticon to show them just how much I care!