by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright April 2016
First, keep in mind that romance and marriage are going to be so changed from what they are in the 2010's by the Tattoos and T-Shirts issues. Their roles in society are changing dramatically. Lets look at each individually.
Historically, the commodity use for marriage was two-fold: 1) to produce children who would get support as they grew into adults, 2) to establish kinship linkages between extended families so they would trust each other more and could cooperate with each other more. By the 2010's the second use was irrelevant because cooperation is being handled in so many ways outside of marriage connections, which is why arranged marriage is anachronistic. Thanks to increasingly widespread prosperity and government supported social support networks the first use is also not as compelling as it used to be, either -- we now have lots of single mom's.
This evolution into anachronism is going to continue. By the 2050's both of these activities are going to be handled by other groups and organizations. This means that what is left for marriage is going to be manifestions of personal expression. It will be sustained by the same style of thinking which today sustains horse riding, oil painting and violin playing.
o It is going to be done more perfectly by the participants. People are not going to be in a marriage to satisfy the wishes of other people. Because divorce is easy they will also not be in one if they think they have made a mistake. They will be doing it right in their own eyes, and doing it right, right now.
o There is going to be more ritual and less practical. Personal expression supports a lot of ritual. Being married is going to be a lot more elaborate than just being together.
o Participating is going to be a lot more expensive, so fewer people will be engaging in it. Weddings and marriages are both going to get more elaborate and more expensive because of the desire to support personal expression.
An interesting related phenomenon is that in the 2010's some women are going through marriage rituals without getting married to anyone. (mostly in Japan and Korea at this point) These women just really want to experience the ritual.
In sum, the reasons for engaging in marriage are going to change dramatically. Figuring out what the new reasons will be is part of the challenge of writing this essay.
Romance is going to change as well. The commodity use for romance was spending time with someone to see if you wanted to spend more time with them, with having sex being a large part of the time together theme.
As marriage has changed its role, and as birth control technologies have improved, romance has changed it role as well. First, lets look at romance's purpose, which is to answer a couple big questions:
o What is a person going to be looking for in a partner?
o What will they do with the partner?
The commodity change that has happened over the last fifty years is that romance is a lot less risky to engage in. As marriage's role has changed and become more "perfect" and more about personal expression, romance's role is changing as well.
Here is how the shift towards personal expression is changing romance:
o In some social situations the routine is simplifying. The "hook-up"/"Netflix and chill" culture is an example of this happening.
o The ritual that hasn't gone away is the social shaming when marriage and romance with someone outside the marriage are mixed. In high profile cases, such as moralizing politicians and religious leaders, it has gotten even stronger.
o What has gotten more expensive and more elaborate about romance? This one I don't have an answer to yet.
Lets look at the questions romance of the 2050's is designed to answer:
o How will thinking about this ritual evolve? For instance, just one partner? Or will many partners become commonplace and more acceptable?
o Related: how are all the "stepping out" forms going to be viewed? Since marriage is going to become so special, what forms will infidelity take? The forms should be quite different.
o What will be the root satisfaction, the form of personal expression that is giving deep satisfaction? To help answer this, think of what satisfaction people today are getting from tattoos? (a pleasure form alien to me)
These are some of the basic romance issues. Now... let's mix in technology. Let's mix in... wearables!
Wearables are going to make romance quite different in the 2050's.
This is taking place in a world with both emotion-controlling wearables and cyber muse companions who make lifestyle suggestions to their owners.
The emotion-controlling wearables mean that there is no uncertainty about "Will I like this person?" now or in the future. If you want to, yes, you will. The wearables will see to that. Conversely, if you don't want to fall for someone, the wearables can help you "forget him" quickly.
The cyber muses are interested in getting people into a parental state of mind -- any child that is not conceived by and raised by humans in some style of family structure (including baby clubs) will have to be created as a Necessity Child (in a vat somewhere) and raised by cyber nursemaids. There will be plenty of these being created in the 2050's, but the less needed the better.
But the muses are usually subtle about this become-a-parent suggesting -- people don't keep cyber muses around to convince them to become parents. They are there because "Behind every great person there's a good cyber muse." People want to be inspired, not nagged.
The big change between the 2010's and the 2050's is that deciding who to fall in love with is not a question of emotional feeling -- that attraction will predictably follow after the choice is made, and the emotion will be deep and lasting, and guaranteed as long as the person uses wearables.
The "engagement ring" of this era is programming liking a person into your wearables -- or giving your object of affection a new wearable that will handle the task. And, as mentioned above, not falling for someone is equally easy to arrange.
Given this environment... what will be the hard choices in "getting committed"? What will people think hard about? What will they look for, long and hard, in potential partners? What kinds of socializing will they do to size up potential partners?
It will be quite different.
Hmm... using wearables for romance is something teenagers can practice with, just like they practice with alcohol, drugs, music, sports and driving. They can practice controlling emotions and other mind altering with wearables.
How to practice with them will be a hot, opinionated topic of the day. It will be much like how to practice with drinking and dating is in the 2010's.
Part of what makes it so white hot is how fast the emotion controlling capabilities of wearables will change as the technology advances -- parents' wearables are not going to operate the same as their kid's wearables do.
(This has become He's the One?)
This is a story of first love... first commitment to love, actually. This is what is going to take the place of the "falling in love and getting married" practice that is so conventional in our 2010's days -- the days before these powerful wearables are available.
This is about how it's going to be different in the 2050's. The surprise is: it's going to be a lot more like old-style arranged marriage, only the person getting married is doing the arranging, not a pair of families.
Alice and Jane are having a lunch break at Starscents. Alice has something important on her mind and she is opening up to Jane about it.
Alice says, "I'm thinking too much about Hal. The guy is a loser, but I really like him."
Jane says, "Pfft! Your wearables can fix that!"
"Yeah... but I don't want them to fix it."
"That's what everyone says... until they fix it."
"I know that but..." Alice gets I bright idea, "Hmm... What I want is for Hal to fix himself. Then I can screw the wearables... on this topic, anyway."
Inwardly Jane laughs a little, "A noble aspiration, indeed. But what are you going to do for Hal that his wearables and cyber muse can't? This sounds crazy, Alice."
Alice grins, "Yeah. It sounds crazy. I'm not the first woman who has wanted to fix a man." grins even wider, "But these are modern times... with modern tools... I have to think about this some more."
That said, Alice and Jane both go into zombie mode for a couple of minutes (talk with their internal communicators) then come out and talk about other topics until break time ends.
That evening, while cuddling up for bed, Alice talks to her cyber muse, Rhonda-456.
"Rhonda, what can I do to inspire Hal? I really like him so, but his resume is such a bag of crap."
Rhonda responds, "Do you want to do that, or find someone with a better resume? That might be easier. I can start looking for you if you give me the word."
"Start looking... but help me figure out how to fix Hal, too."
"I can work on that."
Satisfied, Alice rolls over and heads for sweet dreamland.
This is a story about two committed people who have had a relation for a decade, but now times, and feelings are changing. How will wearables influence this "Seven Year Itch" pattern of life?
In these times that's pretty standard. There are the internal calendars and cyber muses to assist in that.
He and Clarice met at Golden China, their favorite fancy restaurant in the area. The cyber muses were taking care of the kids.
These wearables are going to open up new possibilities in romantic relations. These new styles of relations are going to be surprising. This is about one of those surprises.
"We can do this!" said Merill with great determination.
[[What is this surprising romance relation? Something beyond conventional LGTB.]]