Bouquet of roses. Candle-lit dinner. Mood-setting music. A freshly-cleaned outfit. The perfect date.
Seen in many movies, books and how-to articles, the media seems to have a strong grasp on societiesâÂÂ expectations for romance and love. But New York City youth say the depiction of romance and relationships in media and pop-culture is over-exaggerated and gives fake impressions of relationships in real life. They also say that the opinions of young adults are easily swayed by what is said in the media.
âÂÂMedia has that power, whatever they say, people just listen and they end up being controlled by what they say,âÂÂ said Anna Lang, 13, a student at Lab School for Collaborative Studies, located on the west side of Manhattan.
Some also say relationships in movies and celebrity relationships in the news are overly dramatic and inconsistent with reality.
âÂÂThe media makes it seem that relationships will always fail and it makes it seem that in someway, someone will [come to] ruin the relationship,âÂÂ says Brittany Waldren, 16, a student at Baruch College Campus High School. âÂÂI feel like all they talk about is failing relationships and how hard it is to have one. Failing shouldnâÂÂt be the focus, being open and honest should be. It wouldnâÂÂt be hard then.âÂÂ
Some youth also feel that media has become a manipulative tool and teenagers are too easily influenced by it.
âÂÂI do believe that the media has an effect on the people around us. I’ve seen students at my school freak out over some ‘impending zombie apocalypse,âÂÂ after some guy bit a hobo’s face off,âÂÂ Melissa He, 16, a student at Baruch College Campus High School said.
But Paul Levison, a professor of communications and media studies at Fordham University, says young adults are not that easily influenced by media and can comprehend things at the same level adults can.
âÂÂWhen youâÂÂre 12 years old, you have adult level mentality and you have less experience. Obviously someone who is 32 years old has more experience than someone whoâÂÂs 12 years old, but in terms of the ability to think itâÂÂs pretty much the same,âÂÂ he said.
He also says that relationships seen in movies and television are all relatable and it is part of a personâÂÂs natural instinct to feel the need to be loved, but there are some forms of exaggeration in the media.
âÂÂAlthough there might be a superficial influence that any trend among pop-culture might have, in the end people still need human contact and they still need relationships and therefore romance is still part of their lives,âÂÂ he said.
Samantha Young Chan, 16, a student at BCCHS, said she thinks the media should focus on issues that affect the world rather than the celebrity affairs and relationships that are done for publicity. In recent news, Tom Cruise and Katie HolmesâÂÂ divorce had generated an overwhelming amount of attention from both the media and the public.
âÂÂI think it’s over-exaggerated. It makes people delusional as to what they should be experiencing, which isn’t right. I think the media should focus on actual important news, not stuff like celebrity marriages,âÂÂ Chan said.
Popular dating shows like âÂÂThe Bachelorette,âÂÂ give people a fantasy, one that makes them think relationships are dramatic and beautiful. But in reality, relationships are not as picture perfect as they seem, according to Waldren.
âÂÂIt seems wonderful and like something that everyone should be experiencing,âÂÂ she said. âÂÂIt looks perfect, but in reality, nothing is perfect because not all relationships last forever.âÂÂ
A 2010 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, an organization that analyzes health-related data, found that there has been an increase in the amount of time teenagers spend utilizing media since 2004, from six hours and 21 minutes to seven hours and 38 minutes. With many outlets to choose from, young adults are exposed to a lot of information.
Ann Niles, 17, a student at Lab School for Collaborative Studies said, âÂÂEveryone is online all the time, itâÂÂs hard to avoid things like this when itâÂÂs right in your face.âÂÂ
Anna Lang, 13, feels that the romance in novels and movies are too simplified and doesnâÂÂt reveal the complexities in real life.
âÂÂRelationships are complicated already, I donâÂÂt want other people to show me what is right or wrong,âÂÂ she said. âÂÂI just want to do my own thing.âÂÂ