Postmodern romance

01 Apr 2019 / 14:00 H.

IF social media has been the cornerstone for many to launch their careers, can it also be a place to find love?

A household name and parvenu, Jane Lau or widely known as Jane Chuck and like many other public figures who have built their career on the social media landscape, thrive on their interaction and lend coveted influence to brands.

Jane and I met at a café to talk about her recent wedding engagement and most importantly the notion of love in postmodern times. Her presence is warm and nonchalant, as we sit down after some chitter-chatter I slipped in the question: “So, when’s the big day?”

She openly revealed that her wedding is set to take place at the end of December 2019.

The 27-year-old ‘affluencer’ – influencer who has actual influence, knows that public appearance and private life are inextricably intertwined, though through the years she attempted to keep the romance behind closed doors.

In September 2018, she took to Instagram to announce the exciting news of her engagement with long-time beau, now fiancé Han Pin who proposed in Jaipur, India.

I asked if she could describe the idea of romance she grew up with. Jane pauses temporarily as if she was lost in contemplation then answers: “I don’t quite know, there is no exact thought that comes to mind.

“Though I grew up seeing my grandparents’ unconditional affection towards each other and even after the passing of my grandfather, I’d still see my granny as a strong independent woman.”

Jane also describes the notion of love: “The most romantic part of a relationship is communication itself, because talking to each other in person is such a romantic and intimate gesture, especially when everyone is online right now.”

One of the first movies in modern times that depicted online dating, “You’ve Got Mail” in 1998 saw a couple who began an intense and anonymous internet romance. It was a sign that romance will continue to thrive like never before even in the technological era.

While technology has opened many doors, it has also changed relationships as we know it.

Today, social search and dating applications like Tinder as well as others have become an epitome of what young relationships have developed into, contributing greatly to how unexpectedly it has modified and impacted modern love. As our conception of self and intimacy evolved parallel with digital spaces, romance in postmodernity has been labelled dead.

“Tinder has grown to be a normative social behaviour we are so used to. It somehow magnifies what are our individual interests and who are we looking for without having to go through the elaborate structure to find love and actually figuring out mutual interest,” Jane shares.

In a way, Tinder in the virtual domain does emulate the dating structure in the real world. It is essentially about making quick choices based on appearances, which is what we have already been doing. But the act of swipe left (dislike), swipe right (like) hoping to get a potential Tinder match to many seems like a gamified dating process.

If there’s a match, the match-made in cyberspace starts a conversation with an often used cheesy pick-up line, like: “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” And what are the chances that this conversation opener or suggestive coquetry might evolve into a fruitful relationship in the long run?

“Everything comes too easily these days,” Jane explains about the pitfalls and fears of modern love.

“The fact that anyone at any time can hit on someone so casually by sending a direct message (DM) through Instagram just goes to show how accessible this feature is. But no doubt there is a certain amount of commendable bravery if one decides to do that.

“Modern love is increasingly difficult in today’s social landscape. From a woman’s perspective, women are realising what it means to be a woman as they have also evidently expressed themselves so much more than the older generation.

“Truly, the only love we need is self-love, only then we are able to open our hearts to someone else.”

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