72 days. That’s how long it took Kim Kardashian to file a divorce against her ex-husband Kris Humphries and beat the record for being in one of the shortest celebrity marriages of all time (Forbes). Her sisters, Khloe Kardashian, age 35, and Kylie Jenner, age 22, both already have children and haven’t tied the knot (Biography). But why is that?
A report from Pew Research Center predicts that marriage rates will continue to plummet for those under the age of 35. Does this mean that people no longer want to be in a long-term relationship? Well, not exactly. Millennials and Generation Zs want a relationship because they are constantly exposed to the idea of the “perfect” relationship, rather than the relationship itself.
Believe it or not, news sites have credited the prevalence of social media when it comes to the primary aspect of modern society that makes it easier for people to mess up their love lives (CNN). In fact, on average, millennials spend around 6 hours a day scrolling through Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter (Fortune). Gen Zs (that’s us) spend between 6 and 9 hours a day on social media (Forbes). So, it makes sense why social media has always played a significant role in fostering long-term relationships (CNN).
Essentially, dating apps such as Tinder and Bumble provide us with too many options. With so many potential dates to “swipe right” on, people always feel like they can do better. People are also constantly facing online competition with other profiles, which fuels unrealistic expectations (BBC). Yep, some people really do feel like they are competing against the Alexis Rens of the world when they aggressively swipe through Tinder. Because of this, young adults find it hard to make a decision on their life-long partner and settle down. Deleting the dating app suddenly becomes the hardest thing to do.
With so many potential dates to “swipe right” on, people always feel like they can do better.
In addition to dating apps, other forms of social media promote the stereotypical “relationship goals” without actually addressing the challenges that all committed couples have to face. Haven’t you seen 13-year-old VSCO girls posting cheesy texts with their boyfriends? Yeah, they pretty much start and end with “good morning beautiful.” And when you’re scrolling through Instagram on the way to school, haven’t you seen relatable teenage accounts posting young couples on vacation in Hawaii? Yeah, not so realistic. Where are they even getting this money from?
So, to find out if our high schoolers at SAS feel the same way, I ventured out to the cafeteria to interview two upperclassmen. When asked whether she’s thinking about getting married in the future, Alexandra Fu, a junior, says that she definitely wants to get married when she reaches adulthood. But she does agree that what she sees on social media has a large influence on the types of relationships that she idolizes.
On the other hand, Brian Kwon, an 11th grader, says that he “wouldn’t mind” if he and his future significant other weren’t legally married. In other words, even though the ultimate goal is still to get married, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he wouldn’t choose to cohabit and have kids with his partner without signing a legal document. He also says: “I can see why people would be influenced by social media when it comes to making these decisions because we see serious married and unmarried couples online all the time.”
“…social media has a large influence on the types of relationships that she idolizes.”Alexandra Fu, a junior at SAS
People are only becoming more and more active on social media. As its prevalence increases, so does its influence. Being aware of these influences gives us a greater control of our lives. You don’t want to be forty five and alone because you’ve spent your twenties and thirties swiping through dating apps. Long-term relationships aren’t going away anytime soon, but if any generation will find a sustainable replacement for marriage—it’ll be ours.