Love, like the forgotten banana at the bottom of your son’s school bag, evolves. There’s a chance that, at least on the face if it, love looked different for your parents, whose parents behaved differently to theirs.
This begs the question: what will love look like in the future? We asked a troupe of love gurus from various backgrounds to enlighten us.
ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, ICT guru
In 2050, as it was in 2017 and 1950, there is good and bad love. The first is easy to spot – it consists of couples treating each other with love and respect (and sporadic lust). Bad love is both more invisible and more visible than ever before. More visible because more people than ever will share every emotion on social media or whatever comes next – like mood meters worn on the forehead.
Bad relationships will be instantly apparent and people will get in and out of relationships faster than ever before, but they’ll compensate by developing relationships with virtual companions – think Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa but with real personality and artificial intelligence – or even the household robot.
Because everyone knows everything about everyone – including despicable habits or prejudices – it will be harder to find the ideal partner, and we’ll start to take computer-arranged marriages for granted in the same way online and app dating had become standard back in 2017. Oh, and people will still regard virtual reality sex as cheating.
PAIGE NICK, writer
Love will always be love. Sure we’ll have sex with margarine-powered dildos and real-feel vaginas, developed in petri dishes in Taiwan and delivered by alternatively powered drones. Men will have penises AND vaginas, and will still earn more than us. Women won’t age, because of technology. But men will, because payback time.
And still, even then, love will always be love. Technology can’t prevent our basic human need for tenderness and intimacy, or one human being from falling harder than another, or eyes from roaming. In fact, technology only enhances temptation.
Which is why love will always be love: hard, complicated, messy, sticky, tender and often heartbreaking, no matter what medium it plays out in. At least that’s what I’m hoping.
CRAIG WILSON, editor of Stuff magazine
Tired of simulated affection – or “plug and tug” as her brother called it – Valentina decided she’d venture out into meatspace again. Though this time with a little more care. Last time, before hitting the Dark Side of the Moon singles bar – a palatial venue on gargantuan wheels that kept it in perpetual shade – she’d dialled her synthetic pheromone dispenser up way too high.
The result had been a riot that made the instant news wire and necessitated her spending a fortune on an impromptu, untraceable teleport – the mechanism and cost of which had made her vomit in the decorative umbrella stand she kept in her entrance hall (rain having been consigned to the history books two decades earlier).
This year she was going to do it the old fashioned way. She’d select the person she felt that inexplicable and unquantifiable attraction to from the AutoTinder projections she was already flicking through on the rear of her retinas. Algorithmic matching be damned. What match was data – even a mind-boggling quality thereof – for intuition, eh?
If he turned out to be a creep, an android, a clone – or worse, boring – she could fake an emergency telepathic call and do a runner
“Campbell Sutton” only scored a lowly 9.3 out of 10 on the auto-compatibility scale, and was burdened with what sounded like two surnames, but something in his face suggested her mother would hate him, which was always a plus (and one of the few variables the scale didn’t take into account).
Besides, if he turned out to be a creep, an android, a clone – or worse, boring – she could fake an emergency telepathic call and do a runner. Come to think of it, she could send her clone to vet him.
She closed AutoTinder with a blink, slid a capsule of insta-popcorn into the nutrition slot in her forearm, called up 2040’s blockbuster rom-com Love Virtually on her retinal display, and took a timed sleeping capsule to make her sleep until the day after tomorrow, 15 February 2050.
Will human contact be superfluous in 2050? It might be. The way technology is going, scientists will soon be able to convincingly recreate the feeling of human contact, and virtual reality is becoming, well, our new reality.
By 2050, humans may be blobs of fat floating in brine, choosing who they want to simulate a date with, anywhere in the world.
There’ll be a state of the art synthetic hand that “feels just like the real thing – get it now for only R99.99” to hold, as a smell simulator transports you right to the field of daisies where you have a 1999 version of Britney Spears on a picnic blanket. Waaaaay easier than trying to pick up another blob of fat at an oxygen bar.
It’s a terrifying thought and I really hope it doesn’t come true, but if the human race gets any lazier it might.
Let’s stay positive and believe that nostalgia will trump this VR dream. True romantics will whisk their loves away for trips to the ocean rather than a simulated gondola ride. And opt for candlelit dinners not LCD-lit ones.
SYLVIA MCKEOWN, freelance romantic
Love will always be clumsy and earnest, difficult and effortless and, well, love. The way we search and interact with love may have changed but basically love remains the same.
We’ll continue to find it in unexpected places – friends’ houses, the mall, online, in an app or during a simulation. We’ll court each other through gestures and sex. There’ll still be poetry and love letters, written by hand, text or hologram. Long distance lovers will find solace in virtual reality, or hyper loop travel will make long distance not so long anymore.
There’ll still be frustration and heartbreak. We’ll still be unfaithful – with a lover’s best friend, a stranger or a robot. And we’ll still argue that the infidelity doesn’t count – not if it was with a robot.
Long distance lovers will find solace in virtual reality, or hyper loop travel will make long distance not so long anymore
We’ll find comfort in the arms of another, relief in the arms of a friend and revenge sex in the arms of a different robot. Our hearts will be broken and patched up with other loves or with a 3D printer.
There’ll be intolerance towards some love choices, according to race, gender or materials. Aunt Susan isn’t going to be thrilled that you’re in love with a cyborg, no matter how nice this Phyllis is.
That’s love’s secret; it doesn’t need to change, even if you do.
TiMO ODV, music producer/musician
Love in 2050 will be very different. Over the past few years the lowly cellphone has changed the way we love. In 2050 new technology will have lenses implanted into our eyes and sensors in our brains that will make information about people we meet instantly available – if they’re single, where they grew up, if you have common interests or speak different languages.
Or perhaps we’ll abandon technology and go back to talking to people, not looking at our phones while we eat dinner at a restaurant.
TUMI MORAKE, comedian and celebrity
The more technology progresses the more I think it’s all going to revert.
There are so many stories about the original Valentine’s rituals, like the Christian version and the pagan vibe with lots of naked women running around outdoors.I think we’ll go back to that. We’ll return to the time of huge debauched orgies – except we’ll be doing it virtually from home. We’ll be hooked up to the relevant apps (hopefully there won’t be power surges).
Let’s be honest. A lot of guys endure Valentine’s day hoping to get lucky. This would be a win-win.
Soon we’ll be able to download Valentine feel-good apps offering good vibrations – of the X rated and PG kind.
Technology has already changed how I experience Valentine’s day. My husband had to teach me how to be romantic and girly about it.
Now I have a date scheduled in my calendar and an entry reminder pops up. I know when romance is on the cards.
Technology also gives couples with kids a chance to experience romantic Valentine weekends.
Give them a Playstation, plug in the babycam and see you later.