There was a time, not too long ago it seems, when the courtship game still held some traditional flavor — when men would send notes and picked you up at home, and asked you properly for a date.
Over 30 years later, however, we have learned that the concept of the “first date” is dead because the Internet allows one to get information about the other person, changing the “getting to know you” stage somewhat.
Nowadays, people “meet” online and go out on “dates,” which they would rather not call dates, but hanging out. And even though Valentine’s Day continues to celebrate the concept of love and romance, rampant commercialism has sent a deadly arrow into the heart of the matter.
Technology, it seems, changed the language of love in ways we never imagined, back when bookstores and record stores were still the meet-up places, and telephones were the fastest way to communicate.
Dating in the 21st century
Technology made everything convenient for everyone, including dating. During the 1990s, there were the pagers, beepers and connecting phone lines. People logged on to group chats like the IRC and initiated conversations with a “potential” chatmate.
The 2000s saw the rise of smartphones, but even then, it did not yet have those apps that made everything much more private and convenient. Past 2010, the rampant use of apps and social media in essence “killed” dating in its oldest form.
In the old days, guys pay the girl they like a visit or even ask her out in a more traditional way, say, during a dance or just simply striking a conversation.
These days, though, it is easier to download apps like Tinder and Grindr. These are like speed-dating, which was a fad for a time, but much, much faster, with just one swipe of the button.
So how does it affect dating these days? On the good side, it makes one’s network wider, meaning one can potentially find a mate within a circle of one’s friends, which might mean an acquaintance of a colleague overseas or just in another city; or someone who is a virtual stranger but shares the same interests.
On the flip side, there have been reports of dating or eyeballing (meeting face to face) gone wrong. Several reports have surfaced about an eyeball, which usually involves a woman, who was sexually assaulted after meeting for the first time the stranger she met online.
And then, there is the phenomenon of casual dating, which majority equate to flings/one-time hook-ups. If done with precaution, it would not result to a grave consequence. But if the parties involved did not practice safe sex as they were taught in school, chances of sexually transmitted infections and disease may arise.
The dating landscape in the 21st century has drastically changed, back when a man was expected to visit the woman he liked at her home, with her parents in attendance. This is no longer the preference (or perhaps no longer possible) today. Sometimes, parents get a jolt when a son or daughter brings someone home and introduces the person as someone they’re seeing.
Every year on 14 February, thousands of letters, chocolates and flowers are exchanged between couples to signify their romantic feelings in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Teddy bears, champagnes or a sweet serenade also comes as a popular gift. But history says the origin of Valentine’s wasn’t that romantic — at least, not in the traditional sense.
It is believed that this festival is celebrated to commemorate the death anniversary of St. Valentine, a martyr priest who lived in Rome during the 3rd century. At the time, Emperor Claudius II, a pagan, prohibited single men from getting married as he strongly believed they were destined to be soldiers. Valentine did not approve of this rule, so he secretly facilitated weddings. Not long after, the Emperor learned about his actions and ordered his execution.
Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution, including beating, stoning and decapitation. While in jail, it is believed that his last message was for his jailer’s daughter, signing it with the phrase “from your Valentine.”
All around the world
14 February has become synonymous with the culture of declaring undying love for someone special, and every country has its way of commemorating the month of love.
The Norwegian tradition, which dates back to 18th century, involves Gaekkbrev, which means “joke letters.” Secret admirers pen poems to their beloved before cutting intricate patterns into the paper and pressing a small white snowdrop flower inside.
Koreans have their own way, too. Adapted from the Japanese tradition, women in South Korea are the ones in charge of the chocolate-giving. Days after, they would receive presents in return on White Day, 14 March.
And, if you have ever dreamed of getting married alongside your neighbors or friends, Valentine’s Day in the Philippines may just be the perfect celebration for you. Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of couples come together in barangays to marry en masse. These celebrations are often supported by the local government to give underprivileged couples an opportunity to legally wed.
A huge flower arrangement, an expensive dinner and lavish gifts aren’t always the path to your special someone’s heart. Little gestures such as telling someone how valuable they are to you is a great way to celebrate this special season.
With Kathleen Llemit and Pauline L. Songco