Earlier this week, I found myself sat in the living room of my family home, alone, eating a tub of chocolate ice-cream, wrapped in a blanket. Conversely, my friends in relationships were posting pictures online of their Christmas meals together; their matching Christmas jumpers and their jovial, happy faces. Sat alone with only my teddy bear and a glass of red for company, I couldn't help but wonder; have I missed the boat?
At the moment, we are constantly being bombarded with media representations of Christmas that hold at their very core a sense of togetherness, comfort and security. Advertisements are constantly reminding us to get the 'perfect gift' for that 'special someone', whilst others are far more 'lovey-dovey' affairs - find me an advert break between now and early January that doesn't involve imagery of a couple kissing and you can count me impressed. I do not mean to sound bitter, but I have come to the conclusion that Christmas 2013 is shaping up to be the inevitable conclusion of a year that has seen me enter my twenties and effectively into a world where the romantic goal posts have been unpleasantly adjusted. Indeed, in my teenage years, romance was a rather vague and alien concept. Much like local radio and low fat ice cream, we knew romantic commitment was a 'thing' that existed; we just didn't have a clue as to its purpose or why anyone flirted with the concept of involving it in their lives.
Now though, the now-single children of 1992 and 1993 are entering a period in their lives where their contemporaries are coupling off at an almost staggering rate. Once in their partnerships, those in relationships desperately attempt to partner off their single friends like cattle at a farm auction. Meanwhile, those who remain without a 'buyer', so to speak, are increasingly being left out in the cold. Whereas we once went out in groups, we now have to go out in even numbers - so to ensure there is never a third, fifth or seventh wheel etc. etc. You catch my drift.
When did the divide become so evidently clear? When did love become so high on our priority lists? Whereas we were once all partying aboard the same social cruise, now the cruise has transformed into a pirate ship, and singletons are forced to walk the relationship pirate plank. When we fall head first into the sea of romance and dating at the end of the plank, what will we find? After all, for every perfect partner lurking in the shadows for the twenty-something single, there's a rather less exciting prospect; someone with whom entering a relationship with is as about an exciting a prospect as being locked outside your house during a torrential rain storm.
In the age of Tinder, Grindr and online dating; finding love has never been a more instantaneous process. If we so choose, we can weed out the people we know we'll have nothing in common with and instead pre-select potential candidates on the basis of of their carefully constructed online profiles. But where does that leave the single, twenty-something in 2014? Are we now nothing more than mere businesspeople trying to set up successful institutions in an already crowded marketplace? After all, whereas those that fought the war of love before us often were required to scrape below the carefully constructed exterior to gain a sense of the real person who lay beneath, today it is most often the case that we are given one chance, and one chance only to impress potential suitors and partners before they simply move on to another far more aesthetically-pleasing investment opportunity.
Clearly, in our age of instantaneousness, those of us who are single twenty-somethings in 2014 will have to work on our skills for the marketplace of love. In the 1980s, Pat Benatar sang of how "love is a battlefield". As we enter into 2014, the battle rages on, and its soldiers are as committed as ever to finding love. The question remains though; if finding love in the age of instant communication and multiple online profiles has eradicated the unknown, has technological advancement killed off the traditional love story for good? After all, some of history's most beautiful love stories have revolved around seemingly incompatible individuals coming together. In an age where we are able to wholeheartedly embrace our comfort zone and all but ignore the unknown, are we inadvertently transforming the traditional love story into a rather bland and lifeless process?