January marked the beginning of the new calendar year and the new semester, thereby making it the perfect time to come up with a wish list of things that’ll make [Insert Current Year Here] the best year ever. Common resolutions include getting better grades, losing 10 pounds, not spending more time on Facebook than you do sleeping, and the most perpetual staple of all New Year’s resolutions: find love.
“Find love” can be interpreted in a multitude of ways including but not limited to “find someone who can be called to come over at 3 a.m. and cuddle” or “find the love of my life who I will enter into a long-term relationship with that will eventually lead to marriage and three kids and a golden retriever,” or both. “Find love” can also be replaced with other lofty aspirations such as “find eternal happiness,” “find the fountain of youth” or “find out how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop.”
German philosopher and theorist Arthur Schopenhauer said, “The ultimate aim of all love affairs … is more important than all other aims in man’s life; and therefore it is quite worthy of the profound seriousness with which everyone pursues it.” We’re going to assume, for propriety’s sake that the “ultimate aim” to which he refers is to love unconditionally and be loved in return in the same manner.
I say “The single life is great!” while I listen to Jason Derülo’s “Ridin’ Solo,” which quickly becomes me listening to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” which swiftly leads me to listening to Adele’s “Someone Like You” while mindlessly scrolling through pictures of my latest crush.
In all seriousness – though that degradation of my musical choices is entirely serious – is Schopenhauer right in saying that the pursuit of love is more important than all other pursuits in our lives? Is this quest for love an inherent, human function aside from the need to breed? Are we living in a culture where romantic love has become the penultimate end?
Let’s look at the three pop songs I listed above, for example. All three document a stage of love or love lost, and whether the song is a ballad or an up-tempo call to arms tells the listener how to feel about love in that instance.
Much of the pop music out there provides us with stories about love that we can bop our heads to or sob to or, better yet, make out to. When someone goes through a bad breakup, they often haul up in bed and listen to sad music such as Taylor Swift’s “Back to December” until their roommate comes in, opens the blinds and tells them to change out of their pajamas. I know I’m not alone on this one.
On television, the underlying main plot of most shows, reality or scripted, is that the main character must find love. What are we, on the 27th season of “The Bachelor” at this point? Does anything actually happen in Lena Dunham’s “Girls” besides everyone figuring out who to hook up with next? How many varieties of “Say Yes to the Dress” do we really need, TLC?
The seriousness with which the media portrays the quest for romantic love serves to give some credence to our old German friend, Schopenhauer’s claim. “The Bachelor” is still on television because people enjoy watching the process of finding love. “Girls” is popular with the 20-somethings generation because most of us can sympathize with at least one of the character’s hopeless romantic lives. “Say Yes to the Dress” is constantly shown on TLC because not only are wedding dresses gorgeous and sparkly, but they also have come to symbolize the union of love in our culture.
And if the TV shows themselves don’t convince you that our culture is obsessed with love and finding it, see how many dating websites are advertised in any given commercial break. Christianmingle.com almost got a new member simply because the woman on the commercial was so attractive.
Whether or not the quest for fulfilling romantic love is an inherent human need or a byproduct of our social climate, it is without a doubt a significant part of our daily lives. It is no surprise that every January people vow to find love in the New Year and what can give us hopeless romantics more hope than knowing that most of us are looking for the same thing?
Allie Connell is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]