Opinion: Love in the modern age – To All The Boys I’ve Love Before (Warning:Spoilers)

Released on Netflix on August 17, 2018, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is a 2018 American teen romance filmed based on Jenny Han’s 2014 novel of the same name. The story pivots around the middle-child, high school junior Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) writes letters to boys she has an intense passion for before locking the love letters away in her closet. Until all of her letters are sent out to her previous loves. Lara Jean is confronted by a former crush of hers, Peter (Noah Centineo), who reveals he has received one of the letters. Upon seeing another guy approaching her with a letter of his own, Lara Jean kisses Peter and runs off in a moment of panic. The two of them have later come to an agreement of fake dating one another (so that Lara Jean’s crush will think she has lost her interest in him; whereas, Peter’s ex-girlfriend will be jealous). The next few months go by with the whole school, along with their respective friends and families, believing the lie. The teens later realised their true feelings up upon each other and they get back together in a serious relationship.

There is a history of fictional characters having their big “I love you” exchange becomes a speed bump in their relationship. It is often pictured as an embarrassment for the person who says it first. This experience can also be as nerve-wracking as for the recipient where they might just say “thank you” in response to “I love you”. In rom-coms, a happy ending typically comes when two characters profess their love, not their like, for one another. And it definitely doesn’t come while one person professes love while the other professes their like. After all, in the plots of rom-coms, people are meant to make rash decision and but things out, where they let their feelings out before processing in their brain.

In the final scene when Lara Jean confesses to Peter that she likes him, she used the phrase “I like you, and not in a fake way”. She then asks, “how do we do this?” and about what to put in a contract for a real relationship. Throughout the movie, she hasn’t said she loves Peter back once. This type of response is not a common practice to be found in the romantic classic. The two characters are allowed to stay true to themselves. Lara Jean is thoughtful and cautions, she tries to follow her heart and speaks her mind. She never pressures herself into saying “I love you” back just because Peter does.

For many Millennials, relationships in high school are just puppy love dating. To All The Boys I’ve Love Before has included several comparisons of how dating was like in the late 90s (at least this is how Lara Jean thinks dating is like) and in the modern age. In the scene where Peter walks Lara Jeans into the school cafeteria , the camera pans down and show Peter’s hand in Lara Jeans’s back pocket. Quote-on-quote, a direct reference from the Sixteen Candles, an American coming-of-age comedy film in the late 90s. Peter is also shown to be writing love notes for Lara Jean throughout their dating period, from showing appreciation to her amazing hair to a simple greeting. The two youngster are like experiencing a type of relationship without the intervention of modern technology, where words and feelings are transmitted through real-life conversations and writings.

Presenting dating in the 21st century, many of the characteristics root back to technology. With technology and the social media advancing at such a rapid pace, things we once thought were impossible are becoming ubiquitous. Social media has not only become a very relevant topic for brands and companies to deal with when it comes to business, but also fro human beings in regards to their personal and dating life. The integration of the social networks have make it easier than ever to tell people about yourself based on what you have done or doing. Before the launch of Instagram and Snapchat, you will probably still see couples announcing their relationship through Facebook. Either by changing their relationship statue or by posting a photo of them together.

“I delete the picture of him from my phone; I delete his number. I think that if I just delete him enough, it will be like none of it ever happened and my heart won’t hurt so badly.” – Lara Jean Covey

In order to create a bigger connection to the current age, the usage of Instagram can be seen in the movie from time to time. Peter declares his “relationship” on social media by tagging Lara Jean in a posted Instagram photo, captioning ‘with bae 😍”. Within a minor fight of the young couple, Peter expresses his dissatisfaction and confusion of not knowing the true feeling of Lara Jean by saying “you didn’t even tag me in your Instagram photos”. Little does the issue seems to be, it pinpoints an interesting phenomena of the young lovers in the current age. Where expressing affection through one’s action in person is far more than enough, and a comment being left on each other’s social media platform can be so impactful.

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Comments, or photos being left on the social media can influence what people think about the other individuals. Therefore the aim of the perfect self-representation in social media has grown enormously, People tend to project a digital likeness and creative a digital self which not necessarily be coherent with their true physical self. Dating and the way in maintaining a relationship in the 21st century is no longer the same as in the former centuries and generations. Our daily routine is full of media; where the flow of information is getting faster and reaching wider. it shapes our identity and our perception of our relationship with the others. Peter is never afraid to express his affection through a direct speech, arguments and misunderstandings are often being solved in person instead of, let’s say, through text or other social media platforms. It is true that in this technology-orientated age, how you make use of the social media can greatly affect the relationship you are being in; yet, the movie has also ensured us the true value of real-life interactions. This is probably what we need to learn, to be able to draw ourself out from the digital media and live a real life again; when “love” can also be as simple as you think!

Check out the trailer of the movie!