Cultural Challenge of the Week: Disappearing Romance
A friend of mine was out to dinner recently and saw an endearingly awkward teenage couple arrive for dinner, ready to splurge on a casual sit-down restaurant instead of the burger joint next door. They seemed intent on giving a “real” date—with actual, face-to-face extended conversation—a try.
Alas, not really. Within minutes of being seated, both the boy and the girl pulled out their smartphones and began to tap their screens addictively. It was obvious that neither person thought there was anything wrong with focusing on screens, instead of the other person, during an obviously early-in-the-relationship date.
My friend’s story sparked our own discussion about why these teens thought friendship and romance would be better fueled by technology than real life affection and attention. Certainly the ‘normalcy’ of electronic communication technology nowadays is a contributing factor. Technology-assisted relationships are the new norm.
But there seems to be another factor that comes heavily into play: teens rarely see their parents or close adult relatives displaying romance or affection towards each other. Aside from images in a video, then, when do young people ever actually see romantic, endearing, long-lasting relationships?
As technology dominates communication, even within families, married couples have fewer natural opportunities to set a positive, truly romantic example for teens, young adults, and singles of all ages. Young people today simply don’t get a peek at marital romance in ways that teens did in the past.
My friend’s parents used to dance in the living room when her dad’s favorite song came on the radio. They would show affection—a hug, caress, or brush of the hand—in little moments, before dinner, exchanging car keys, or getting ready for their own time out alone. And I remember how warmly my mom would welcome my dad home after a long day of his caring for sick children as a pediatrician. I absolutely loved to watch my parents pour love and affection on each other in their daily communications. I've heard it said that the most loving thing a father can do for his children is to show his love for their mother. I believe that with all my heart. But how often does that happen?
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