what is love in the internet age?

In a world crammed with dating apps, social media sites and ambiguous codes of conduct, what role does love play in the lives of young people this Valentine's Day?

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13 February 2017, 10:05pm

Angel Jhang, 28

What does love mean to you?
It is everything, it's the reason we're all still breathing.

When was the last time you fell in love?
The last time I really fell for someone was four years ago in New York in the summer. I had just moved there and this guy bought me a drink because he said he really wanted to talk to me. I ran out the fire exit because I didn't like him at all and thought he was crazy. A few months later we bumped into each other and ended up running through the fountain at Washington Square Garden together at 2AM after Morrissey night. We sat drenched on the subway laughing the whole way home at sunrise and from then, we didn't really leave each others' sides.

When was the last time you had your heart broken?
We broke up in 2014 - we were both insane at the time and I left him. I now realise maybe my heart hasn't quite properly repaired itself. I've met people but no one I've wanted to give it away to in the same way.

Would you say you and your generation are romantics?
Well I've experienced two extremes - I've dated someone who was too romantic and it made me feel sick and I've also recently been with someone who was terrified of everything. So I don't think romanticism can be pinned down to a generational thing, I think its really personal - maybe how it's executed has changed with the time but the motive hasn't. It depends on the person. A couple of days ago I woke up and someone had sent me a song to listen to in the morning because he's on the other side of the world right now. And whatever it meant, it was nice, and right now I can see how something like distance itself could become romantic too. 

Jesse Olsen, 29

What does love mean to you?
Love is a very, very broad term to me but essentially it's something you can't live without and it is something that is all encompassing. Love is something that can be very destructive, but it's also something that can change you.

When was the last time you had your heart broken?
Probably three months ago. I was in love with a girl and she didn't see it going any further.

Would you say you and your generation are romantics?
I think we are romantic, but it's different. Like now with things like Instagram, everyone is a lot more self conscious - romance is more about how they look doing something for other people as opposed to how they're actually making the other person feel. Like now you see couples that dress each other or they're like, "oh I'm going to the shops to buy my girlfriend a Tiffany box", and loving the process of buying that Tiffany box for their girlfriend and the gratification of people thinking, "oh you're so generous" and "oh she's going to love you for that". I don't think romance is dead, I just think the authenticity is questionable because it's so marketable now.

What makes you fall in love?
My idea of someone. You fall in love because you think they are this someone - you go "oh she's got this, and she's so smart and she's so poetic and graceful " and blah blah blah. Then you realise that's all your own projection - I would say someone who has a truly kind nature and someone that is authentic and obviously a mutual attraction.

How crucial are dating apps in terms of meeting people?
Maybe they are crucial for a lot of people but it's always been that way, I mean people still took out ads in papers for dating back in the day but it's just different now. Socially, some people generally struggle to confidently approach someone so it's all just another avenue. And if it all reaches the end goal of two people being happy together, or three people being happy together, then that's all that matters.

Kiri-Una Brito Meumann, 22

How did you and your loved one meet?
It's a bit weird, I guess we kind of knew each other from mutual friends and then one day he messaged me to hang out when I was with my ex boyfriend because he thought I was single. Then a year later, we broke up and then he messaged me again and asked if I wanted to get food. We got breakfast and haven't left each others side since.

When did you know you had fallen in love?
I think it was very early on, we moved in together two or three months into the relationship and I had never lived with a boyfriend properly before. Within the first week we just knew.

Would you say you, your friends and your generation are romantics?
I think unfortunately not. I think there are still romantic people out there and my boyfriend definitely tries to be romantic every now and again but romantic stuff is kind of pretty dead. I mean I think we're living in a time where everybody is thinking about equality and stuff like that. Old school romanticism primarily comes from the guy and I still really like that. I still consider myself a feminist and don't think it makes me any less but I think it's really nice to be treated romantically by a guy. Now guys have this excuse to not do that sort of stuff - everything has sort of changed now.

How crucial are dating apps and social media in terms of meeting people?
I think Tinder and all that has affected romanticism a lot. I mean even with the Tinder age, you're just swiping left or right! And also my partner, I'm sure he saw my Instagram before he met me so he liked me on a physical level first. That is how you generally like people on these visual platforms - it's like visually what you're into and you kind of already know what you're getting yourself into before you actually meet the person. Obviously there's still an element of surprise, but not so much.

What does love mean to you?
Somebody that you feel comfortable with and you know will be there for your good days and worst days and still be in love with you just as much. 

Simon Frazzetto, 20

How do you think meeting people and dating has changed since your parents got together?
Well technology wasn't as advanced I guess and you couldn't really talk to someone over the internet or through text message, it was more face to face. You would have kind of gotten to know someone straight away as opposed to having an idea of what they're like over the internet and then meeting them in person and having them be completely different.

What does love mean to you?
I suppose you can't really say this about a person, but what comes to my mind is being passionate about something. In terms of feeling love towards someone, I guess sometimes you can't explain it, like it's just how you feel, you can just tell. And you can't decide how or when it happens, sometimes it just happens.

How important is it in your life?
Well right now I'm pretty young so, I mean, it's not a priority but I kind of have a lot of things to figure out and what I want to do with my life. But at the end of the day it's better to just let it happen on its own instead of going out and searching for it.

When was the last time you had your heart broken?
Actually my last girlfriend, but the break up was sort of on my terms so I wouldn't say I was really heart broken.

When was the last time you fell in love?
Probably on the tram this morning...I don't know! It's hard to say without seeing someone for a little while - proper love or whatever. I mean you can get drunk and just talk to someone and get along really well, but you kind of have to give it time and see all aspects of someone to get a really good understanding of them and how you feel about them.

Mckenzie Briggs, 26 

What does love mean to you?
It means being able to be the most true and raw version of yourself and be loved for it.

When was the last time you had your heart broken?
I guess it was the last time my love was unreciprocated, wanting to give everything to somebody who just did not have the capacity to match the same love for me.

Where do you look to meet people?
I don't think I've ever gone out to look for someone.

How do you think meeting people and dating has changed since your parents got together?
It's a lot less of a formal process now, dating in the time for my parents included driving to the girl's home and letting the parents know when they'll have their daughter home by, that kind of thing. Whereas these days people don't tend to treat it as anything that sacred anymore.

How did you and your loved one meet?
We met at Christmas in 2015 when I was living with his brother in Byron and they came up for a holiday. There was this instant familiarity and I just immediately felt comfortable to be myself and we all formed a great connection. A few days into the holiday, they had gone out to the shops and I remember thinking how much I couldn't wait for him to get back. And when they did come home, he just walked straight over to where I was sitting and I just reached up and held his hand and that was that.

When did you know you had fallen in love?
He was back in Melbourne and I had already come down to visit a couple of times. One day I was back at work and on the phone and I was missing him so much to the point of physical pain and that's when I realised.

Elijah Robertson, 22

When was the last time you fell in love?
I don't know, probably when I was mad young. I left high school when I was so fifteen so a little bit after that. Sixteen or something.

When was the last time you had your heart broken?
Probably a year and half after that, same person.

How do you think meeting people and dating has changed since the time your parents got together?
Well the whole date thing is like pretty non-existent now. Now people just hit someone up on their phones or on the internet and they'll either like come round or hit someone else up. I don't know. Or you just go out and you get real drunk and then you just wake up.

Would you say you, your friends and your generation are romantics?
Every now and again, but for the majority of the time I'm just skating or partying. I'm not out there too much trying to find a girl and saying they're going to be the one I'll marry. Not right now. 

What does love mean to you?
I dont know. Just someone who, at the time, you just feel like you can't live without I guess?

Marita Kaji-Ogrady, 19

How do you think meeting people and dating has changed since your parents got together?
My parents met at a party then got married for a visa, so maybe not much has changed.

Would you say you, your friends and your generation are romantics?
Some of my friends are extremely romantic, I'm warming up to the idea.

How crucial are dating apps in terms of meeting people?
Meeting people online before meeting people in person really changes a relationship, good or bad I don't know.

When was the last time you fell in love?
I went back to Sydney recently and fell in love with the ocean again.

When was the last time you had your heart broken?
Every time i get rejected by my housemates cats.

What does love mean to you?
(╹◡╹)♡ 

Jack Doepel, 23 

How did you and your loved one meet?
My partner Zarah and I met when we were both travelling alone in Europe in 2015. I had moved to Germany (where Zarah was born) after spending some time in the UK studying music. We met one evening through a friend of mine. Zarah moved in with me the day after we met and we have been living together since.

When did you know that you were in love?
When I realised that when I'm around Zarah, I am constantly trying to be the happiest, most honest, gentle and loving version of myself. For me, and for her.

What does love mean to you?
To me, 'love' is a word that on it's own holds no real meaning. I believe that love manifests itself in the form of our actions. Saying 'I love you' only means something if you then take it upon yourself to show someone every day that you believe in them and want more than anything for them to be truly happy, confident and whatever they want to be in life. I am a strong believer that how people handle adversity together speaks volumes about how they feel about each other. It is easy to celebrate the happier times, but to me it is how you listen to each other, and care for each other during the harder times that shows the strength of a relationship. I believe being in love should make you question what love is, and can be, every day.

How important is love in your life?
It's the most important thing. 

Credits


Photography Angel Jhang