There’s a lyric to a song I quite like called Love, by Crywank and it goes ‘Love is fucking stupid and I hate you’. One of the many many odes to love out there, and I frankly don’t know what else you would expect from a band called Crywank. The song charts a stagnant relationship where both parties are together, not because of a mutual bond or a connection but for the convenience of being seen as a couple.
This, in many ways, is the ailment of modern times. We live in a hyper-sexualised era, where porn is available on tap, yet we are having less sex than our parents. People in the developed world have fewer close friends now than they did 30 years ago. And love it or loathe it, online dating accounts for 40% of how all new couples meet, and this trend is set to increase. For large periods of time in the last 3 years, we could only see a select few of our friends and family due to covid restrictions. The future is here, and it’s lonely.
When discussing the theme modern love, you wonder why you have to put modern in front of it. Surely the pleasure of human connection and relationships is timeless, in the same enjoying a good meal or listening to music or admiring a sunset is. We have been doing these things for millennia. Indeed, there is an apocryphal story that Margaret Mead, a famous anthropologist, said that the beginning of civilization was not marked by the discovery of weapons or tools but by a healed femur. Mead explained that when animals in the wild break their bones, they are hunted before their bones heal, but a healed femur indicated that this person had been cared for. Helping each other through difficulty is the beginning of civilization.
I think that love is timeless, however, I think we live in a time of the commodification of everything, even human connection. I think we treat the pursuit of romantic love as some sort of video game, where there are infinite indispensable matches that you can power swipe through on a given evening. We don’t do much better when it comes to friends either. One of the main tenants of maintaining a friendship is consistency and showing up. I think people stress if they don’t make instantaneous connections with people in the first few weeks of college, but it takes time. A part of this is that we live in a hyper-individualistic society. All of our media is personally curated, from Twitter to TikTok to streaming services. This means that we no longer have collective ‘cultural moments’ in the same way we used to. If we all watched the RTE news at 6, we would all have the same experience, and then we could discuss it at length. Now, however, when talking to people about TV, news and culture, it’s a case of ‘have you seen…?’ or ‘you should watch..’. Having unlimited access to media is intoxicating, but it does mean you’re less likely to overlap with your peers. On top of that, there is a huge trend towards individualism in social media therapy circles. This ‘you don’t owe anyone your energy’ attitude means you don’t ever get hurt, but you also don’t allow yourself the vulnerability to be truly intimate with someone.
This month Motley discusses all this and more. We have articles on attachment styles, divorce legislation in Ireland, and poetry to boot. It’s not all about romantic connection either, with pieces on why Wednesday doesn’t need a love interest and why Valentine’s day is for all. This magazine has brought together the big and small when it comes to love and you’re in for a treat.