How to navigate a culture of zero commitment and instant gratification.
I’m not a staunch critic of online technology, nor do I think it’s the bane of our existence. It has given me and countless others a vast platform for communication and consumer choices. On any given day people I will never meet read my words, look at my yoga videos, and get to share their thoughts on pictures I’ve captured with my camera phone. Everything we could ever want or not is there, readily available and if we’re not completely satisfied we can revoke our membership, get our money back and purchase a trial week for the next big thing.
I’m not sure what came first; our desire for diversity of choice, and less commitment or the availability of countless no commitment choices due to mass marketing. More and more industries are adopting the quickie answers and no commitment culture that is increasingly prevalent in the dating world. Now you can swipe left or right and pick a sample without purchasing the full size from clothing to work-spaces. No one gets hurt, easy return policy and if you’re not completely satisfied; your money back guaranteed . These types of no commitment transactions are showing up from online shopping to online dating and sex. Don’t like the man or woman you’re dating after two dates? Return to sender. Don’t like the dress you tried on via mail order? Stick it in a box and slap a return label no questions asked. Try it on, and if you don’t like it transactions; are equally extended to people as well as shoes. No fuss no muss.
Yet ( yup you guessed it, there is a yet) when demanding or expecting instant gratification or no commitment returns of people and feelings, inevitably someone gets damaged in the return policy. Pick a small medium and large of something and it will fit, but people just aren’t and should not be disposable or returnable. It’s a dangerous thing to play with someone’s identity and worthiness online.
If something doesn’t work out in the first half hour, the availability of thousands more souls on a screen make it seem as if our choices are limitless. Time and time again that way of thinking has been rebuked. Taking time to understand, listen to, and acknowledge another person isn’t the same as sampling a perfume. People don’t come in sample sizes.
We’re complicated, vulnerable and imperfect. We have baggage, we have flaws and we have a history that can’t be summed up in 140 characters or less. Zero commitment policies have permeated interpersonal relationships to the point where if one doesn’t fit a preconceived idea or image; one is instantly disposable; returnable without any personal responsibility or explanation.
That way of thinking can lead to massive disappointments, and be a cause for deeper traumas. In my Meeting and getting to know a romantic partner is like making your favorite cake. Even if its a recipe you’ve read about over and over before actually trying it out, the ingredients must be fresh, the process can’t be rushed, and following a recipe won’t always make what’s in the picture. Sometimes you will burn the cake, but wanting it to be picture perfect and without the calories and the burned edges, is just plain unrealistic. What the picture lacks is depth, substance and above all flavor, and making a cake from scratch is much more involved than buying it ready made at a classy bakery. The hands on experience of actually taking time to get to know someone is beyond the ideal presented in a glossy magazine or app profile.
By the same token, zero commitment doesn’t build brand loyalty or personal loyalty. It fuels the idea of “here today gone tomorrow” as something to aspire to, because there is more where that came from. Rather than investing in something worthwhile, which in the long run takes, patience, perseverance, self knowledge and observation, most choose for instant popcorn, instant lovers and instant joy. Replaceability, cheap alternatives, quickie fixes, and satisfaction guaranteed isn’t what human nature is about. We are more than that, we want more than that, and we should value ourselves more than that.
Picking through samples with a limited warranty and a fail safe return policy may be acceptable for marketing mail order perfume, but for me staying power is like a bottle of Chanel No. 5, it’s a classic no matter how many new perfumes are made.