Forget Cinderella, Welcome to the Real World!
Once upon a time, the skies were clearer, the sun was brighter, and the clouds swirled around as if they danced to a silent song. People said hello and waved across sidewalks to each other. Men would hold the doors open; “ladies first,” they would say and you would find them painting the town red with their love to their chosen one. Holding hands in public, gazing longingly into their lovers’ eyes, it was always a pleasant surprise.
Alas, perhaps it’s all a thing of the past, and all the acts of chivalry our grandparents once told us about appear to be dead. Although I looked for a Clark Gable of “Gone with the Wind”, a Warren Beatty of “Splendor in the Grass”, or any cinematic scene from a 1900 romantic film. When I compare the then and now, there is one hell of a gap.
We’re the instant gratification generation, the era dubbed by the information age where social media platforms have taken a toll and a leading role in our day to day lives. The kind of lifestyle where everything comes to us with a click of a button. If we want food, we’ll order it online; if we want to listen to our favorite song, we’ll use Spotify; and if we want to watch a movie or a show, Netflix.
Naturally, we end up doing more and experience feeling less; hungry over everything.
Our handheld devices allowing us to interact with anyone, yet limiting face to face interaction. Thus, instead of meeting in person, we use social media as a means of ‘stalking’ the faulty reality of people’s profile pages, even sending messages that could lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. There’s definitely more to it than a set of edited photographs and a glammed up bio that describes “you” in a few sentences, all of which seems a bit too oddly, tidy and curated.
Nevertheless, because we are too occupied with the idea of what is next on our agenda, to fulfill the fear of ever feeling bored, we forget that there is far more depth to life than what we can see on our screens. Where its beauty lies in its serendipity of surprises which sparks a sort of creativity one only dreams about.
Instead of giving things time, instead of giving people time; time to reflect, appreciate, and acknowledge certain details about each other, at the first sign of trouble, we block and run off to other options. Knowing, it’s only a click away on an online dating app. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few men who have their affairs in order, men who want to fall in love and eventually settle down in the traditional sense. There are men out there who are as emotional and respectful as women, following the same code of ethics as us.
I suppose if we were to look at the situation through a different lens, perhaps some women have made it so easy and effortless for men that they no longer see the need to work hard to earn their place in a woman’s heart. They don’t even reach the level of admiration as long as they get the ‘instant gratification’ of sexual pleasure from the first date. If we indeed had a role to play in the modern world, can we really label ourselves as the culture makers? Are we allowed to determine what is socially acceptable within society? Or do we just lazily settle and pray hard enough that the prince charming fairy tales boast about still exists?
There is a bridge between you, the reader, and I, the writer. Yet, I am unsure if it is real or a fragment of my virtual reality. I can’t help but wonder, is it technology that has instigated such a wide gap between men and women, yin & yang, the way we think and deal with one another? Or is it the “men are from Mars and women are from Venus” stereotype that emphasizes our gender differences, thereby resulting in our miscommunications? So many psychologists have been trying to analyze and identify reasons for fall-outs; for one, Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages; but is there one concrete answer?
That is for you to figure out. Perhaps the secret lies in a Garden of Eden under a tree of knowledge, functioning as an etiological legend that seeks to answer questions about our humaneness. For what is this life if not seeking paradise here on earth with another. Longing for a haven that will take us home after all those years of displacement in the tangled mess of modernity. As the English Poet Robert Browning once said, “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp… Or what’s a heaven for.”