What is love? That's a question that we have all grappled with in our lives at some point or the other. It excites philosophers, who dive into its deep complexities and hope to describe our abstract longing for a particular person.
Poets try to capture the madness, and writers tell us stories, complaining and explaining love. We’ve struggled with it for thousands of years, perhaps even more. In modern times, scientists are meticulously breaking down its chemical code. They’ve coldly labelled the combination of hormones secreted by our glands, mapped our psychological social insecurities, and even traced it to survival of our species. But the question still continues to plague us - what is love? There are no clear answers, and therein lies its magic.
Love has a powerful effect on us, one that we cannot deny. If love could be dictated or chosen; if it could be contained in a few words or a mathematical equation, it would lose its special place. And yet we try. Our phones are cluttered with numerous dating apps and their algorithms, all trying to capture love. But it is notoriously difficult to find.
Technology is nudging us towards our perfect partners. There is an unending stream of potential mates popping up on the screen. Billions of matches have happened on online platforms. Interests and hobbies are paired, preferences are noted, zip code, gender and age, sometimes even eye colour is a criteria. It makes it seem so easy. The algorithm holds out a tantalizing promise – but it is a measure of compatibility, or will it find us love?
It seems strange to open our hearts to someone based on a list. Is there even a possibility of finding an ideal partner by declaring upfront our height, weight and meal preferences? A carefully chosen photo, a carefully worded bio, is then followed by scripted conversations and awkward meetings? It feels synthetic. Swiping right, hoping to get lucky can’t be romance.
Falling is unexpected and unplanned. Love is about falling. There are no measured steps. It must be fearless, and terrified, all at once. It can be messy, and risky…and sometimes downright foolish. And through it all, we hold on to that unspoken connection.
I am aware there are so many love stories that began on an app. Online dating is growing so fast, helping more and more couples connect. Perhaps in the long run, it will even lead to stronger marriages, given the profiles have been picked and matched by a super smart code. Who knows, a few years later it might be even easier. There will be no tedious process of scrolling, searching and swiping. Artificial intelligence will probably sniff your genes and deliver the perfect companion on a platter. Augmented and virtual reality could even do away with the need to meet in person, touch and smell one another.
The future is coming. It will change how we flirt, talk, date and find our potential mates.
But then, what of love?
At the risk of sounding silly, I want to still believe in the fantastic, and remote possibility of one day, just crashing into one another.
(When she’s not pondering over love and other drugs, the author is a journalist, columnist and television anchor)