I watched a TED talk not too long ago.
Like most lectures on the site it was dynamic and thought provoking.
The topic? Love.
In the talk, French philosopher Yann
Dall'Aglio elaborated on how the nature of romantic partnerships in
Western Society have evolved from relationships based on fulfilling
gender and societal roles. Before modernity, men were bread winners
who deferred to their elders and social betters. Women were
caretakers who submitted to the men in their lives. Now, with roles
and positions no longer clearly defined according to gender we base
our romantic choices on personal preferences and on something else.
Dall'Aglio defines this something else as 'seduction capital'.
“Indeed,”He says in his rich native language.“our
consumer society is largely based on seduction capital. It is said
about this consumption that our age is materialistic. But it's not
true! We only accumulate objects in order to communicate with other
minds. We do it to make them love us, to seduce them. Nothing could
be less materialistic, or more sentimental, than a teenager buying
brand new jeans and tearing them at the knees, because he wants to
please Jennifer. Consumerism is not materialism. It is rather what is
swallowed up and sacrificed in the name of the god of love, or rather
in the name of seduction capital.”
While consumerism may not be the same
materialism, it seems that we are a generation of pure consumers and
that we devour everything in our lives like materials, including the
people around us.
We are such consumers that we treat
people and relationships like products to be bought and adjusted
according to our preferences. We buy each other not necessarily with
cash or credit but with 'seduction capital', charisma and,
inevitably, a large amount of false self-advertising. We market
ourselves to others like a drink or a brand new car. Like in all
advertising the product is never quite what is show in the commercial
or poster. Nevertheless, we buy the illusion. Only to eventually
discover a flaw with our latest purchase. The person doesn't fulfill
every need as advertised, they don't match the ideal image in the
commercial or come with all the features and benefits we thought they
did. Eventually many people discard the person, like they would a
latte that didn't quite have all the ingredients they wanted. And the
cycle keeps going. It will keep going until we realize that people
are not lattes, iphones or cars that can be perfectly tailored to all
our individual whims.
I realize this is not how many people
approach relationships. However, I do think it's very telling that so
many in contemporary societies approach relationships in a way they
would approach choosing an outfit or selecting a particular brand of
We live, people from the 1st
world, in age where everything is tailored to personal preference,
completely, succinctly. Is it any surprise that so many approach
romance and partnership with the same expectation of total
satisfaction in all fields? We expect a person, our partner, to have
all the right apps, to keep us perpetually entertained and provided
for. We always expect the best performance. Yet no one can deliver
all the time.
It's a sad mentality to be caught up
in. I've certainly 'bought' into it to an extent.
I think' like Dall' Aglio, we need more
tenderness in our romantic relationships. We need to be willing to
remember and be open with our frail humanness. We can't be perfect
machines. So why pretend not to have so many weaknesses?
Realizing we are fallible, recognizing
our faults and weaknesses doesn't mean that we can't improve
ourselves. This also doesn't mean glossing over personal weaknesses
and or problems. Actually, I believe being opening to our loved ones
about our blemishes means committing ourselves more fully to
self-improvement. People can learn. It's one of the best aspects of
being human. In certain areas of our lives we can raise the bar. We
can alter bad habits and develop good ones. But it takes time; a lot
of time. In an age of instant gratification, that can sometimes seem
impossible to remember. We can't download a program to make our
operating systems run smoother.
However, we can't be an Iphone. We
can't ever be it all or have it all. We're human and we shouldn't
have to be anything else but that.