LOVE

Love and Other Devices

Love and Other Devices

To what extent should we medicate a lack of love?

Is a chemical attraction better than a digital distraction?

Or should we just be left to our own devices?

Google Trends report a surge in searches for ‘mobile phone addiction’, closely followed by ‘social media addiction’. Mine is on my lap. It’s not off. It’s never off. Because this is Normal? 2018, and we are living in an always-on culture. The conversation is ‘Love and Other Devices’. We are here to talk about love, and how the rise of mobile phone addiction might be the death of romance.

Love is critical to our survival. Babies are literally helpless without it. Without attachment, they die. They need us to be responsive to their cries, attending to their needs. Love carries us through life. Arguably, it is all we seek.

Yet in our relationships, we are choosing to be elsewhere. Sat with our phones never more than a reach away, we scroll through a never-ending sea of content. Like Pavlov’s dogs, we respond to each ring, ping and notification with a panting, slavering hunger. Leaving our partners starving for our attention. Our screens are the new seductress. What is left of love, if we are so easily drawn away into our mobile phones? And should we be chemically resuscitated to our desire once we have lost our passion?

I admit, the discussion wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Anticipating a chat about addiction to scrolling, the conversation swiftly segued into love and medication of love. It’s a difficult conversation. I confess to not knowing the voices of everyone who has a stake in it. Medicating those with depression, children with ADHD, prescribing pills, can sometimes problematise more than it solves. But it did beg the question. Should we ever be ‘prescribing’ love? Or, more fascinatingly, suppressing love?

A relationship expert, an addiction expert and a man with a PhD in Love walk into a bar…  

The conversation drifts from phone addiction, towards the ‘answer’ of medication. Why is medication the solution? Why should we not be left to our own devices? Have gone so far over the line that we no longer discuss the cause of the addiction, but head straight for medication?

The research is exciting. That we can track the brain's signals and chemicals and reproduce them as a cure, is a positive advance in science. I think. But.

What is love?

Baby don't hurt me

Don't hurt me

No more

- Bex Bell

 

Links relevant to this diagnosis:

Love and Other Drugs - Philosophy Now

America's Love Affair with Prescription Medication - Consumer Reports 

Chemical Attraction - Observer

Phone Addiction is Real - Forbes

F*CKING MEN / King's Head Theatre

F*CKING MEN / King's Head Theatre

Ten interlocking scenes present separate sets of lovers, each semi-ironically riffing on different ‘aspects’ of love. The platonic ideal. ‘Simple’ carnal lust. Tortured archetypes (‘Actor’ and ‘Journalist’) playing out and struggling with their desires, counter-desires and the simple physical fact of their bodies. 

THREE JUMPERS / Unearthed Theatre

THREE JUMPERS / Unearthed Theatre

A council worker watches on as a young man takes a running jump to throw himself off a bridge. He pulls back at the last moment. The young man, elegantly dressed, starts to converse with the dry witted street sweeper and the tone shifts. Things are revealed to be more complicated, as things often are. 

GENERATION ZERO / Lamphouse Theatre

GENERATION ZERO / Lamphouse Theatre

In a world increasingly mediated and sustained through ever more subtle technologies, it seems appropriate that the protagonists of Generation Zero meet through an online dating app. Their blossoming romance develops through a particular set of millennial anxieties and rituals. The strife at an unresponded message with a read receipt, the bonding over twee children's literature, the small unfoldings of mutual appreciations and desires.

 

OSCAR / Vertebra Theatre

OSCAR / Vertebra Theatre

Two young queer girls meet in a nightclub and bond over a copy of Oscar Wilde's De Profundis. When tragedy interrupts their burgeoning romance, only Oscar can provide comfort. This new puppet and dance-based piece by Vertebra Theatre (makers of the acclaimed Dark Matter) explores “queer identities and first love” through “visual imageries, garbage film, devised text and dance.”

CALLISTO: A QUEER EPIC / Forward Arena

CALLISTO: A QUEER EPIC / Forward Arena

Ideas of utopia are embedded deep in queer culture. They promise an environment that’s free from rigid heteronormative, patriarchal structures: one where sexual and emotional relationships can be imagined afresh. In 1850s New York, the Oneida Community enforced non-monogamous ‘complex marriage’, and cared for children communally. In the 1960s and 1970s, gay and lesbian communes formed, in single-gender societies that were segregated from the world outside.