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Loving in the Digital Times: Deceptive Love

"There exists a significant difference between amour de soi and amour propre" - - Jean Jacques Rousseau

According to Rousseau, "amour de soi" is a type of love that is instinctual and not self-reflective, meaning that an individual is indifferent to the opinion of others towards him and therefore, loves himself unconditionally without judgment. On the other hand, "amour propre" refers to a self-mediated love of an individual formed through the opinions of other people in society, leading to the person basing his worth on the fickle view of others.

In this digital age, love has been revolutionised due to the astonishing advances the human race has achieved in the technological field. However, the advancement of technology in the dating scenario has also led to this second type of love becoming very prevalent among the masses, with people judging their worth based on how many likes or comments they get on their posts and profiles on social media and dating platforms.

India used to be the land of traditions, where marriages were not just a union between individuals but between two different families. People met others while going out to attend events or via mutual acquaintances, and if they believed themselves to be compatible, they would join their families together in holy matrimony. However, over the last decade, digitization in the global economy has changed the way people meet and interact.

Nowadays, people meet others on online platforms which have been specifically made for dating purposes, skewing the sense of romanticism that used to exist in our society. Various online dating platforms have cropped up like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, etc, whose purpose is to match compatible people with each other. These sites allow users to create online profiles and personas which can be viewed by other online users and based on their interests they are allowed to connect.

This seems to be a very new novel of dating and obviously comes with certain perks like more matches (distance does not remain a barrier in online platforms), better matches (modernisation and digitisation have led to the creation of algorithms which can predict your choice of partners based on your interest collected via real-time data), and ease of communication with others.

To highlight this phenomenon, let us take the example of a dating app like Tinder to explain its benefits. An individual making a profile on Tinder has to input a lot of personal data into his profile to make the app understand what kind of person the individual in question is, and who would be a better match for this person. Tinder uses all your data to create an online persona for you and then utilizes its patented algorithm to find potential matches for you.

These data sets are very important, as these are essentially your personality converted into binary code, which can be understood by the machines. The algorithms then help you find potential matches based on the data sets it has collected and allow you to match and communicate with them. Tinder can assist an individual only to a certain extent by putting him/her at a communicating distance of potentially compatible people, nevertheless, to establish a relationship, human interaction between two individuals must be present.

Such dating apps and sites have transformed the way people find love in modern times. No longer do people have to meet with hundreds of others before they find someone that they are even remotely compatible with, now automated and semi-intelligent machines and software are here to make our lives easier, thereby forevermore altering loving in digital times. However, where there is light, there also exists darkness. Online dating platforms may have revolutionised the way individuals date and love, but it has also created new-gen problems that did not exist before this digitised era.

Social media and dating platforms have convinced people to become dependent on the opinions and thoughts of other individuals themselves to judge and value their worth, which has distorted the socio-psychological dimension of society. People with no talents other than having a massive following in cyberspace are being elevated to higher social standing in society, whereas people with actual talents go unnoticed more times than not.

These new-generation diseases like Facebook depression, Snapchat dysmorphia syndrome, Social media anxiety disorder (SMAD), etc., did not exist in the pre-digitisation age, but only came into being once technology advanced to its current levels. Including deteriorating the mental health of various individuals, social media is also twisting our views on dating and love that have existed since the beginning of our times.

Nowadays, a hook-up between two individuals is cool whereas 'simping' is essentially lame. It is extremely progressive that society has begun accepting that two individuals of any gender can have relations without being committed to each other but disrespecting a person because he/she does "too much" for a person they love, that is just absurd.

Nevertheless, social media has now made it unacceptable for anyone to be a simp, otherwise, they are derided and mocked for it. People have also become concerned with shallow appearances nowadays, with couples on social media spending their hard-earned funds at astronomical rates just to post a few photos on the social media platform just because one of their acquaintances did the same. Social media has become the biggest hub for showing off to other individuals, it doesn't matter if the couple in question is having a rocky patch or even if they are in love anymore, appearances must be kept up!

The anonymity afforded by the internet also allows unscrupulous individuals to scam others. Various scams like catfishing, blackmailing, and identity theft have occurred mainly through dating sites, wherein individuals are so desperate to find love that they are ready to give out their confidential information at the slightest prompt just for a small chance at finding love.

Remaining single nowadays is undesirable in our society and having someone beside you (which is proved by the various photos posted on social media platforms, as otherwise, nobody would believe you are happy with your partner, "because they don't post any photos, and are, therefore, discontented with their lives") is the way to be successful. Seeing other people post such content on online platforms (no matter how fake they may be), makes other people jealous, and they start craving what these individuals seem to have, thereby creating a perpetual cycle of fake love and pretentiousness in our society.

Digitisation in today's world may have seemed to make it easier for us to love in these modern times, but it has also created some deep-rooted issues and raised alarming concerns regarding love in our society. Firstly, these dating apps and companies have access to all our data, which we are willingly giving up for a hopeless chance at love. These companies have unfettered access to our data which they can use in any manner they deem fit, all in the name of finding us our most compatible partner. Privacy and data concerns are the last things going through an individual's brain while signing up for a dating profile.

This New-Age Digitisation has created these new-gen diseases which are severely affecting our society, especially the younger generation. After Covid and the lockdown, our lives have become permanently paired with our online personas, thereby compelling us to spend our time facing the screens. It has become clear throughout the progression of this paper that digitisation has irrevocably changed loving in modern times and while it has led to something which may seem good, underneath lurks a monster slowly corroding the pillars of our society, which would eventually lead to our collapse.

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