Does technology help or hinder relationships? Seriously, I’m asking, because there isn’t an easy answer.
I started thinking about this because of a new MTV show called “Are You The One?”
Basically, 10 guys and 10 girls have to guess whom a computer program has determined they’re the most compatible with in order to win a prize. It doesn’t matter if they have meaningful connections with other contestants; if they don’t figure out their match according to the algorithm, they don’t get anything.
This show, like many of the other romance-competition reality shows out there, takes the concept of love and twists it. Unlike other shows, however, it appears to heavily lean on technology for perfect matches.
Is it possible for a program to know what you want more than you do? Or are we exhibiting a reliance on technology to a perhaps unsettling extent?
Of course the issue isn’t as black-and-white as those two options, but for the purposes of this column, I’m going to focus on those two opposing concepts: our heavy dependence on technology and the possibilities it creates for new relationships.
Technology has become akin to a necessity. Some may even call it a necessary evil, which is reflected in the realm of relationships and sex.
We text more than we talk to people a lot of the time nowadays, and while that can be a good way to reach your significant other when you need to, it’s also given birth to the “over-involved” lover and created a new realm of compatibility. It’s convenient, and it helps people overcome distance, but it also can be extremely dangerous in terms of sexting.
Internet dating has opened up literally a whole new world in terms of dating; people you might never meet in real life who are very compatible with you could be found just around the corner.
However, is there something to be said for starting a relationship organically? A lot of people tend to think so, or we all probably wouldn’t go out to bars as much and spend as much time dressing up as we do.
There’s also an extremely dangerous component of Internet dating: The falsification of intentions and identity cannot be ignored and certainly ranks among the top points regarding the “evils” of technology.
The best technologies that have aided human sexuality are of a slightly different sort: the advancement of contraceptive methods and increased measures of STD protection. These have few drawbacks in a majority of cases, but they still carry inherent risks, especially when they use chemicals that could be potentially harmful. Also, even though they are good, none of them are foolproof.
Back to the original question, I think we do rely too much on technology. Or, rather, we’ve developed quite the dysfunctional relationship with it.
In this day and age, we rely on technology so much that we do a disservice to ourselves. A computer program might tell me my perfect match immediately, but I miss out on the growth I get from guessing. I’ve only had two relationships in my life, and I learned so much from them, even though they weren’t my perfect matches.
We may socially stunt ourselves through our reliance on technology, and with that we lose out on personal growth through interpersonal relationships and physical connections. Technology should be used to enhance relationships, not determine them for us.
So while technology is alluring, I like to think I’d pass on the algorithm in favor of some good old-fashioned trial and error; every mistake you make brings you closer to the solution.