Should we redefine romance?

In “Redefine romance,” a column in the Feb. 27 edition of the Minnesota Daily, Harvard Crimson columnist YingYing Shang takes issue with recent articles lamenting Generation Y’s “incompetence when it comes to romantic intimacy.” She writes that her generation has emotions leading to love and dating, similar to previous generations. I cannot disagree with the notion that courting rituals change over time and that utilizing new tools of communication to connect is the current trend. There are peculiarities to these new norms that need to be openly discussed for the sake of talking plainly.

The advances in mobile phone technology have been phenomenal, but these devices are just tools with which to communicate; they are not a substitute for human interaction. Why is it that entire buses of young adults take all of two seconds to pull out their smartphones and ignore anyone and everyone around them? Is it a habit? Yes, but some habits need to be overcome.

Perhaps speaking plainly to young ladies would be a good place to start. You have taken the time to make yourselves look attractive on any particular day, but do you know how unattractive it is to pull that device out and hide your facial features? Do you realize that sitting across from you on that bus may be the man of your dreams and he might start a conversation if you did not have your attention glued to that device? Somewhere along the line, highly paid marketing professionals for the smartphone industry have convinced an entire generation that their products were indispensable. There are even public service announcements pleading with families to “unplug” and interact while going camping or biking for the weekend. It could start to happen today, one person at a time, by turning off their device and limiting their attachment to a product of the marketplace.

Shang’s dismissal of the “older generation” fretting about Generation Y’s intimacy capabilities misses the point. Yes, meeting that special person to share intimacy with could happen online, but don’t ignore the myriad of possibilities that include shopping, busing and walking as potential ways to meet that someone special, sans a mobile device.