Sunday, June 8, 2008

Modern Love, Modern Disenchantment


The NY Times "Modern Love" column depresses me for two reasons. First off, while they're all enjoyable on a surface level, I haven't found any of the articles to be particularly well-written or insightful. I guess the fogies over at the Times are so out of touch with us whipper-snappers that anything that goes beyond explaining traditional love roles is somehow award-winning.

But it also depresses me because all of the columns so far have expressed a downright dissatisfaction and disillusionment with love. Is lovelessness the bread and butter of our generation? Perhaps we really have become so removed from one another that we are now content with a slew of meaningless hookups, because we have witnessed our parents' messy divorces and bitter remarriages, we have seen the mantle of love crack under the pressure of too many years lived too unhappily.

I've had my heart broken. I don't want to get into the details because they are painful and tender even now. My parents also got divorced when I was 14 so I know first hand what it's like to fall out of love with love. Cue a plethora of meaningless boyfriends and hookups, the Prince Charming fantasy all but discarded in the trash along with my virginity and my ability to find someone who didn't treat me like I existed solely for his sheer amusement. I know where these kids writing the "Modern Love" columns are coming from. This week's feature is about the horrors of dating - something that I purposely avoid engaging in because it's so painfully awkward. The meaningless questions, the prodding -- but the thing I hate most about dating is that intense self-awareness that you're forced to adopt. "Do I look okay tilting my head this way? Am I saying 'like' too many times? Am I coming off as an asshole?" Dating is a breeding ground for self-doubt, so I usually try to get to know people in a more comfortable environment - in class, mostly - so that the whole "first date" thing will seem casual and nonchalant.

But the reason this article troubles me is because I've grown to accept the fact that prior circumstances have left me rather disillusioned about love and relationships. I just thought that everyone else still believed in them. The idea that a lot of people from my generation share my discontent is rather horrifying for me. It's kind of like Americans' stance on the environment: "Everyone else will clean it up." I assumed that everyone else was waiting for their Knight in Shining Armor, holding down the fort for those of us who aren't believers, guiding us in by torchlight to some hallowed inner sanctum where they could finally convince me and my disenchanted counterparts that love isn't impossible.

Modern Love depresses me because I was so totally wrong.

-Jess

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