In the age of consumerism, we as individuals are forming our mindsets and behaviors based on what we have learned from different advertisements, social media contents, blog posts, expert opinions, TikTok, celebrity endorsements on Instagram, TV reality shows, the latest viral trends and contents, product positioning, celebrity lifestyles, movies, and so on.
As a result, we are influenced by the suggestions, persuasions, and symbolic meaning we have derived from these sources and develop our taste, preferences, decisions, comparisons, and lifestyle choices accordingly.
Similarly, we also learn so much about loving relationships from the narratives of love symbolized in movies and songs. Likewise, we like to read guidebooks on the art of loving to enhance our love, replicate the love lives of different social media influencers, and make love decisions based on consumer values of use and disposal. When it comes to choosing gifts for your girlfriend, you also seek expert advice and adhere to their guidelines in order to provide her with the ultimate experience of your love.
Just to give an example of this learning because of the influence of pop songs these days, for modern lovers, breakup has simply become a natural or obvious stage of the love cycle, comparable to any other product life cycle where, after peak experiences of love, there will be decline and discontinuity.
Being in love also becomes useless when excitement begins to weaken and the boredom of repetition starts to creep in, and at that moment, you can "shake it off," as Taylor Swift reminded us; indeed, if you can't make him stay, you can at least shake him off. Breakups aren't tragic, brokenhearted, or sad. Don't waste your emotions grieving over him; save your emotions for someone else you'll find again. Now you are better off being apart than together, as “The Breakup Song” lyrics from "Ae Dil Hai Mushkil" remind us, and breakups have become just another reason to reignite your passion, take charge of your life again, and party with friends rather than hang on and grieve over a stale relationship.
Likewise, we feel that exchanging various products developed as gifts and engaging in modern-day love rituals would prolong, strengthen, and enrich our loving relationships. Modern-day love rituals like Rose, Chocolate, and Teddy Days, candlelight dinners, Valentine's Day gift packages, and diamond rings and bracelets make so much sense in consumer culture because the products and services that are available in the market can be used to signify and express a person's quantum of love.
Love has surely become costly. With so many products and services in the consumer market that symbolize and signify different features, dimensions, depths, and expressions of love, lovers need to have sufficient purchasing power to exchange, enjoy, and experience love in all its colors, exuberance, and facets.
From restaurants, vacations, shopping, birthday celebrations, night outs, romantic dates, and weekly gifts to movie theaters, different portions of love hang everywhere, and you need to purchase them to enrich your loving relationships. Indeed, you can consume these products and services with your partner in order to enhance your experience of being in love and make it more satisfying and exciting.
Falling in love in the age of consumerism becomes so irrelevant, less exciting, dull, and meaningless if you can't buy your portion of love.
As a result, much of human love and relationship in this consumer age is nurtured by an individual's consuming capacity and purchasing power rather than genuine passion, sacrifice, a sense of togetherness, trust, support, and tolerance for each other. We have started to view people as commodities that can be exchanged, consumed, and disposed of.
Moreover, falling in love has become some kind of window shopping where we look for different categories of image, expectation, satisfaction, and anticipation in someone to fall in love with, just like we go through a catalog to find a suitable product with essential features, functions, qualities, possibilities, and consumer benefits. As with other products, if it serves our purpose, our relationship will last for years; otherwise, it will be dumped and replaced if it fails to meet our expectations.
Besides, based on our consumer mindset, we think that we can easily dump a person and find a replacement rather than engage in the difficult tasks of acceptance, accommodations, and conflict resolution. After all, a loving relationship is interchangeable from the standpoint of a consumer; thus, like any rational consumer, we are free to dispose of the other person when we are confident enough to realize that we can now possess an upgraded model than what we currently have.
In the age of consumerism, our ways of loving and being in relationships also resemble how we would interact with and react to any other consumer product available on the market. Loving someone is just a part of consumer behavior.
Just as consumers have learned to seek temporary satisfaction—something attractive that immediately makes us happy for a moment—we all have become collectors of transient moments in love. Lovers may post their pictures or reveal their intimate confessions of love to the public in a manner of showing off, but lovers always feel insecure about being disposed of, dropped, or interchanged. And like our affection for any other consumer product, after a while, love also fades away.
Loving relationships have indeed become liquid.