DATING IN THE DIGITAL AGE - EMPATHY IS SO PASSÉ by Arielle Rudman

We’ve all been there... Single, bored, and awake at 3 a.m. watching yet another Friends omnibus, left arm elbow-deep in a bag of crisps whilst clutching a behemoth glass of Pinot in your other hand. And while you’re really enjoying staring at Matt LeBlanc’s chiseled features, and perfect smile - he's unattainable, and has aged 20 years since this episode aired anyway. However the Tinder match you just made is 8 kilometers away, 22, and apparently quite fond of sushi and shirtless selfies. You send him a gif of Adele mouthing “Hello”, and wait for a response. A couple of days and a few messages later, you agree to meet for drinks to see if your online attraction and chemistry translates into “the real world”. 

So is this what dating in the so-called “digital age” is like? An app download, or two or three, a couple hundred swipes left or right, and boom, you’ve found your soulmate (or at least a summer bae)? And with a fifth of all committed relationships starting online, it begs the question: Is this quick-fire connectivity doing more damage than good, or is this the future of dating - a place where hastily made judgment calls based on aesthetics, and 120 characters littered with emojis, symbolize all that we need to remedy our relationship woes?  

The general consensus is that these sites and apps bring people together in a way that the traditional dating medium would not. It takes the guesswork out of compatibility on topics such as politics, sexual orientation, and general interests, while also allowing you to converse with potential dates from the comfort and safety of your home. Which is great for those of us who are perpetually busy, and spend our days working or going to Uni with the same people from the same area, but who are looking to date someone other than Amy the asthmatic Canadian from Molecular Biosciences class. 

While these aspects seem generally positive, and lead us into a world of improved external connectivity, we must also look at the downsides of entering into a style of dating that allows, in a much easier capacity, cheating, emotional blindness, and a next-to-extinct sense of empathy, to flourish. 

A recent study conducted by HTC found that nearly 25% of people in Britain still use dating apps, even if they are in a relationship. And while that number may come as a shock to some and leave others feeling disturbed by this lack of transparency, this concept seems to have become more or less socially acceptable over time. 

There’s a sense of levity when it comes to online dating, it’s viewed as more casual, despite the fact these connections are built on the same structural integrity of those made offline. 

While not everyone who uses these sites is callous and just looking for a quick lay, a lot of folks have become used to the notion that they have such a wide range and seemingly endless gallery of men and women to choose from, that sticking to just one person would mean missing out on the next best thing. Dan Slater, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal quips - “Above all, Online Dating is helping people of all ages realize that there is no need to settle for a mediocre relationship.” 

This revelation has created a sense of entitlement and expectation within the online dating community; the notion has provided users with the mindset that “there’s always someone better out there”, which has lead to us becoming less feeling, and more self-serving while we’re swiping right for our next date. 

Though there’s nothing inherently wrong with casual dating, this uptick in juggling multiple potential partners has lead many into the realm of “ghosting” or being “ghosted”. 

For those fortunate souls yet to experience such a phenomena, ghosting is the way in which people passively remove themselves from having to converse with you by, well, ignoring you, for no good or stated reason. It’s a cowardly and emotionally irresponsible way of responding to a situation that you no longer wish to be involved in, and many of us are guilty of perpetuating this behaviour. 

The psychological reasoning seems to be that these individuals one matches with are viewed as little more than a profile at this stage, which leads to a disconnect in the empathy department causing some of us to think, somewhat absurdly, that ghosting them is an acceptable option - you don’t owe them an explanation, or reason, because they’re not a person you are emotionally connected to in a way that merits such an act of communication. 

These concepts seem fundamentally injurious to our society, as they show a backtracking in human awareness and cultivate an environment of apathy.

So, where do we go from here? 

How do we combat the callousness of ghosting, and the idea of our generation never wanting to settle or work things out? We shouldn’t have to ignore our wants and needs as they’re an integral part of human happiness, but there’s something to be said about the way in which we go about securing our pleasure at the cost of other’s finer feelings that needs to be addressed.  

When did honest communication in an age of over-communication, become such a terrifying proposition? 

WOMEN'S MARCH - LONDON by Arielle Rudman

Women’s March - London

Thousands of people irrespective of gender, age, race, culture, and political affiliation have shown up for a rally outside the US Embassy in London, to make a stand against the back-tracking of women’s rights. 

Jamming their bodies into the packed square, a group of women carrying placards, carefully decorated with an amalgamation of obscenities, papier-marcher flowers, tampons drenched in red glitter, and fiercely feminist slogans, entered into what appeared to be an endless sea of people, and began chanting, “Hey hey! Ho ho! Donald Trump has got to go!” in an endless loop. As onlookers joined in, there was a palpable sense of community, strength, and feminism, in its purest and most unadulterated form. 

On November 8th, after a fraught election, Donald J. Trump, was officially announced as America’s 45th president. The patriarchal nightmare he had stirred up through his divisive and misogynistic campaign had inspired many people from countries all over the globe, to organize a march in their hometown showing their unwavering support for not only the rights of women in America, but for all women who are still without voices, across the world. 

The oppression of women globally paired with the continued discourse of hot-button topics such as women’s reproductive rights, and the ever-present wage-gap concern, came to a crux on the day of Trump’s win.

It came as a surprise to many, and an outrage to millions across the country and world, to watch not only the first female presidential candidate lose out to someone grossly less qualified than she, but also to someone who’s entire race was riddled with allegations of sexual assault, as well as insensitive and inflammatory comments regarding his personal treatment of women. Despite these speed bumps Trump still had full, unwavering support from his followers

While women across America feared rollbacks on abortion rights, and cuts to Planned Parenthood funding, to name a couple, there was a nagging feeling from those across the world that Trump’s influence, as the President of the United States, a country which many leaders look to for their own political stances and structures, would trigger a wider set of roadblocks for women in countries outside the United States as well. 

With post-Brexit malaise still hanging in the air, the turnout for the Women’s March on London (close to 100,000 protestors) was as much a stand in solidarity for the women of America, as it was to show a strong unwavering spirit of democracy and support for human rights, in a country that had delivered its fair share of political fear-mongering over the past year.

“The best bit about the march was the feeling of positive hope. And the fearlessness of conviction.” said Emma Fry, of Bristol, who attended the protest this Saturday. “We're on a path now that has been set by others who have chosen to divide, cut and separate rather than to open arms, join together and heal. That's never going to end well. We all need to be prepared for it. We will need to keep on marching.”

That sentiment is echoed on the homepage of the Women’s March on London, where the organizers of the event have set in place a new category titled, “10 Actions”. Where “every 10 days, over the next 100, we will take action on an issue we all care about”, and provide steps for those who wish to partake in the cause. 

The fight for women’s rights and equality is far from over, but exhibiting hope, strength, and unity in a time of divisiveness, through avenues like the Women’s March, is an effective way to combat apathy and push for democratic change.