by Katie Barragry
When I was younger, I was fascinated by couples. I remember enquiring and analysing how the adults in my life had met each other. How had my parents, with opposing views on absolutely everything ended up together? I clearly didn’t understand the concept of opposites attracting. I certainly didn’t understand love; the joy, the agony associated with it and everything in between. With Valentine’s Day approaching once again, the beginning of relationships continues to captivate me, as does the fateful meetings of millennials in particular.
Lord Huron’s song ‘The Night We Met’ is a track that is more than likely on every millennial’s playlist. It initially rose to fame following its appearance in the television series 13 Reasons Why. The band describes the first encounter as a blessing and “a trail to follow.” This song depicts the importance, distinctness and intimacy of the first meeting of a future lover. ‘The Night We Met’ holds a special place in the hearts of many today because it is moving, emotional and narrates the exhilarating whirlwind of falling in love. What draws many to the tune is the sense of naivety and innocence associated with a first meeting.
However, for a 21st-century song, it is somewhat unrealistic. In all honesty, how often do young people today meet someone on the street and leave with a dinner date the following evening? How often do we fall head over heels in love with “the cute boy next door”, despite finding him absolutely repulsive since playschool? I would have to say not very often. We have all seen Dear John, The Notebook and Love Actually, which undoubtedly include the beautifully memorable first meetings of lovers. Inevitably, the prime question that most couples today will encounter is, “So, how exactly did you two meet? Tell us everything!” It is safe to say that Lord Huron did not include the lyrics, “Yeah, we met on Tinder” in this beloved ballad. As a result of social media, I wonder if modern-day love stories are lacking that something special. Are we missing out on that integral “Night We Met?”
Dating apps, social media and consequently, a wider circle of associates have enabled people today to come together in more ways than in the past. First dates, courting and phone calls on the family landline have been replaced with swiping right on Tinder, adding people on Snapchat and being thrown at a mutual associate in a dark, sweaty nightclub. While social concepts have since progressed in recent years, the core idea of love remains the same. However, the method of beginning such relationships has certainly evolved.
It seems like a foreign concept to many young people today that they could meet “the one” on the street on a Wednesday afternoon, at a bar in town or even in one of your secondary school classes and not through the medium of social media. Imagine marrying your soul mate, having studied Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in the same English class ten years previously. Or picture meeting the love of your life at the local parish dance, like your grandparents, stewarded by prying, gossiping locals.
Nowadays, it is difficult to imagine meeting someone without having any mutual friends on Facebook. For the most part, those old–fashioned meetings of courtships, dinner dates and getting to know each other little by little have been left in the past and replaced by aimless swiping on Tinder or alternatively, a hardcore Instagram stalk. When you meet that person in real life for the first time, you more than likely have that predisposed attitude to them that so many millennials have today. Not only that, but you also know that spent midterm in Lanzarote in 2013 and are aware that they haven’t posted a photo with another woman in seven months. Ask yourself, where is the special, meaningful and interesting beginning to the relationship? Where is that intriguing excitement of getting to know someone for the first time? What tale do you have to tell your children in the future that doesn’t involve a cheeky text message at 3am or completely ruling someone out based on their Bumble profile? Prejudice and judgement are inherent before a simple greeting is even uttered. Are millennials bypassing a special aspect of love? Are we skipping over that first real encounter when you meet a stranger on the street? Are the youth of today overlooking the value in getting to know someone for the first time on a first date? Are we missing out on the excitement and anticipation that the beginning a relationship provides? Has social media destroyed that first “Night We Met” for us?
Many members of our generation will never understand the nerves involved in asking someone on a date in person. Imagine if they say “No thanks” in person. We hide behind a screen and avoid facing rejection. Discussions in person become optional. Social media is widening our surroundings and associations but is it shrinking our possibilities of true love? Is that first meeting even that important? I think we are losing that true sense of human contact and that sense of romantic mystery and uncertainty is being dragged away with it.