I know I've been on hiatus with my 'Meditations on Love' entries, but there are still a few more chapters I'd like to squeeze out. So onward...
With the recent bombardment of technology we've encountered in the past decade our entire world has changed. The way we interact with people, and the way we feel for people has also been affected. In this entry, I want to take a look at how these changes have affected the way we go about relationships, and how we love.
How can I miss you if you never leave me?
I once wrote that to a lover a long time ago during a stint at a Colorado Outward Bound course. I was out in the middle the woods in a national park, and I had only a picture of us to remind myself of her. But what I meant by it was that she was still everywhere, my memories or her voice, her smell, and her glowing smile. Of course at the time that statement seemed very endearing, but with today's technology that statement is quite literal. If you are on a trip, or far away from your loved ones you have many ways of keeping up with them today. There is Skype, AIM, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Text Messaging, E-mail, Webcams, Blogs, etc... Missing physical contact with each-other? They even have a vibrator that can be controlled from a remote location by your lover over the internet. Or suppose your love fades, and the relationship ends. Whereas a few years ago you would never hear from your ex, today their information is still easily accessible. Whether you see their relationship status change on Facebook, pictures of their new significant other on MySpace, the urge to communicate when seeing them on AIM, or reading their Blog; you ex is always within the reach of a few keystrokes.
Compare this model to how things used to be "back in the day". Let us look at love in a time before e-mail, before telephones, before telegrams even. To get in contact with your lover you would have to physically write a letter, and wait the months it would take to have the letter delivered by boat or horse, and have then wait for the response to be delivered back. Today it is as easy as sending a text message and waiting a few seconds (which of course you can check to see if they've read it or not). Compare a common "love text" today with a exceprt from a love letter written in 1838.
i luv U
What would I not do for love of you, my own Clara! The knights of old were better off; they could go through fire or slay dragons to win their ladies, but we of today have to content ourselves with more prosaic methods, such as smoking fewer cigars, and the like. After all, though, we can love, knights or no knights; and so, as ever, only the times change, not men's hearts...
They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. And with today's technology they say the world is getting smaller, does that mean our fondness and desire for others is waning as well? In order to tackle this question let us look at another way technology has changed our love lives, the way we meet people.
With social networking sites like MySpace and dating websites like Match.com and eharmony meeting people would seem to be easier than ever. Sign up for a site, type in the attributes you are looking for a mate, and hit enter. Voila. Multiple different profiles show up, and you can browse through them to select who you would like to contact. All of the benefits of meeting people in a bar, but without shouting over loud music. But there is one factor, which I mentioned in my previous entry, that you cannot search for: chemistry. Don't be surprised if you meet that athletic, open minded female that listens to the same music and the result is one hour of awkward painful conversation. Even with the benefits of technology, finding a lover seems just as hard as ever when actually applied.
An article in The Atlantic a few months ago looked at the effects that new technology (more specifically Google and the internet) had on affecting the way we think. The argument loosely says that our brains are not instinctively programed to read, that we must train it to read, and the way in which we read directly affects the way we think. We are in the process of adjusting to reading on the internet. We no longer sit and read a long novel, slowly examining plot, sentence structure, and vocabulary. We are now in the world of the internet. We have a near infinite amount of resources, and as a result we have now resorted to a scanning method of reading; jumping from webpage to webpage, traveling on a highway of hyperlinks, going wherever our curiosity takes us. While the article convincingly shows us how our minds have changed through this new technology, one thing that is not covered is what is the effect of these changes on our emotions? Surely thought and feeling are connected, and since our thought process is changing naturally so must feelings.
Surely on could say computers can replicate our thought process; Google is nothing more than an artificial intelligence. When someone asks me what kind of car passed by my mind instantly researches my knowledge on car shapes and logos, finds the correlating images, and verbally expresses my "search results". But while computers maybe able to simulate our thought process can they mimic our abilities to emote and love? The reason I bring this up is because the more we use the computer and internet to acquire information the more our brains become like one. The playwright Richard Foreman worries we risk becoming "pancake people", a people spread too wide and too thin (or even worse becoming crepe people... bad joke). He mentions that mistakes are human, and it is often through mistakes that we learn and grow. With todays instant gratification it's no wonder that we see so many divorces. If something doesn't work perhaps you just searched wrong, therefore the answer is simple, click 'back' and try another result. My Grandfather once told me, "find a good woman and stay with her." An old fashioned way of thinking perhaps, but perhaps just a way of thinking that existed before our minds became the scatterbrained models that they are now.
As I'm typing this I realize my mind itself is wandering, and there are no real conclusions I am coming to here. But I suppose this post is more of a survey of the way technology has affected the way we love. So with that I'll leave you all of these thoughts to ponder, and ask yourself how technology has affected you and your mind.