Group photo at TEDx Melbourne Circle Event

Has technology changed the way we love?

Written By
Tanya Simpson
Head of Brand Partnerships & Marketing

Tinder.  Bumble.  E-Harmony.  The local pub (pre COVID-19).

We have a plethora of options when it comes to finding love.   But still we are lonely.   Why?

In a recent TED Circle, we gathered 20 people, sat them in a circle (hence the name) and asked, ‘How Do We Love?” Not surprisingly, everyone had a different thought, idea and experience to talk about.

TEDxMelbourne Curator, Joanne Woo started the conversation with a short story about her six year old daughter, Ollie.  In a seemingly chaotic and confusing world, Joanne was trying to teach her daughter about resilience and adapting to change.  She discussed many things in life that constantly change:  the weather, food in season, the world around us.  Things change every day and we must be prepared for that.  “What else changes?”, she asked, engaging her daughter in the conversation.  Ollie paused briefly.  “Mummy, do you know what never changes?  Your love for me”.

Unconditional love.   The ultimate act of selflessness.

(And yes, the room let out a united Awwwww at this remarkable statement.)

Guest Professor Christopher Cordner, an Associate Professor of Ethics at the University of Melbourne, quoted Iris Murdoch with “To Act Lovingly is to Act Morally”.   If you’ve ever done online dating, you probably wouldn’t agree with this thought, as did many in the room who felt that this concept was from a time well forgotten.  Divorce, cheating, scandals and the overarching fear of settling down has lead many of us to question what loves means in this modern age of fast food, fast tech – and fast love.

The room was somewhat divided as to whether technology has given us more freedom to find love, or encased us with a paradox of choices.   With a simple swipe, we can engage – or disconnect – with a potential partner, all from the comfort of our own fortress (the couch).

Mikey, from our TEDxMelbourne community remarked that “dating in real life is hard but that you learn a lot about yourself in the process”.  Jess (also from our TED community) disagreed saying that she doesn’t “have time to sit at a bar for two hours and wait to find out if someone likes her.  As a busy woman, online dating apps have made my life a little easier for choice”.  Definitely choice, but what about connection?

This seems to be the main issue with technology today. Apps, phones and websites give us a myriad of options to find new people – but also disconnect us from each other, leaving us alone in our silos, not knowing how to communicate effectively with each other.

Love Coach, Nardia Renney confirmed that “we are connecting and communicating with more people than ever before, all over the world, but we’ve never felt so alone, so disconnected”.

Our global network is wide, but our true relationship circles are small.

Guest John Hajek, an Italian Linguist noted that in many cultures, there is more than one word for love.  He went on to explain that some words have real depth and are hard to translate into English, whilst others have no reference point at all.  Agape in Italian means unconditional love.  Eros is romantic love.  So many emotions, so many words.

So, are we, the English speakers, missing out on the real definition of love if we have just one solo word for it?

And what about emojis?   A new common language shared by so many of us to describe moments, comments and feelings.   Are they helping or hindering our communications?

Mikey pointed out that emojis and short form text were never designed for proper communication, but we’ve adopted them as if they were, and we are now burdened with frustrating misunderstandings.  Everyone in the circle nodded in agreement, contemplating their own moments of confusion thanks to a random SMS or social media comment.  It’s all about tone they agreed.

Artist and Manager of Blindside Gallery, Lucie McIntosh talked about her love of art and how the gallery is run for artists by and with love, not profit or funding – a common experience by many in the arts and entertainment industry.  When you love what you do, you rarely refer to it as a job. It’s always a passion, a calling, something you love.

Sometimes, the things that you love take advantage of you and your generosity.  Your job, your boss, your partner, your family.

How do we not lose ourselves to the things we love?

Self love.

Love Coach Nardia works with individuals, particularly women, to teach them to like themselves more.  “Love yourself inside out”, she said, “because self love is the key to transforming your life”.

Isn’t Self Love Selfish?”, asked a participant, recounting tales of having to look after children and partners and friends and work demands even though she was mentally and physically exhausted.  “I can’t just abandon my responsibilities and take some me time.  I think that’s selfish, not self love”.

Nardia disagreed and offered suggestions on how to take the pressure off when we are time poor and juggling work, relationships and the stress of life.  “Do the best thing you can at the time to look after yourself”, she suggested, “if you’re tired, sleep.  If you’re thirsty, drink lots of water.  If you have bad people around you, leave.  Until you are wholly complete, you are of no use to anyone else”.

Self love”, she continued, “is misunderstood and under-rated.  Until a child is five years old, it’s completely besotted with itself, then we grow up and self love becomes a forgotten part of us”.

To thrive in this world, we must first love ourselves like a child – or perhaps as six year old Ollie would say “never change your love for yourself …. Or your Mummy.”

Join us for our next TEDxMelbourne Circle … in a virtual space.

Love
2020
Community
TED Circles
Image of Tanya Simpson. TEDx Writer and marketer.
Written By
Tanya Simpson
Head of Brand Partnerships & Marketing

Side hustle / sporadic writer who enjoys capturing the weird and bizarre moments in life. The serious side of me heads up the brilliant TEDxMelbourne marketing team and they let me capture the mood and energy from some of our events, to keep my love of writing alive.

Image of Tanya Simpson. TEDx Writer and marketer.
Written By
Tanya Simpson
Head of Brand Partnerships & Marketing

Side hustle / sporadic writer who enjoys capturing the weird and bizarre moments in life. The serious side of me heads up the brilliant TEDxMelbourne marketing team and they let me capture the mood and energy from some of our events, to keep my love of writing alive.