Guys and Dolls: A Fear of Intimacy

As humans we are no strangers to the complexity of relationships. They’re complicated, they’re scary, and they’re (very) disappointing. So when it comes to issues such as miscommunication, pride, and fear…it’s no surprise when things fall apart and sometimes don’t come back together.

What does the above paragraph have to do with artificial intelligence I talked about in my earlier post? Read on:

Instant AI (愛)

If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in media (namely anime) when it comes to guys interacting with AI and computer programs it’s that…the interactions with them come across as strange. The AI in question are usually female and the protagonist is male and when they meet, the trope Born Sexy Yesterday comes into play.

The woman (AI, robot, doll, alien) in question is usually fully grown, naive, attractive, but skilled. The man is usually ordinary, sometimes unlucky in life or love or both. And interestingly enough…he’s almost always white* (when portrayed in American media). And the woman in question almost always seems to love him in the end. The trope can be explored more in this video by Pop Culture Detective:

If you don’t wish to go through the 18 minutes of in-depth talk I can give my abridged version:

  • Born Sexy Yesterday absolves men from doing emotional labor in relationships.
  • The idea of taking advantage of someone who is naive and vulnerable is inherently predatory.
  • Unfortunate implications abound when this trope can also be seen as a basis for abusive relationships.
  • This trope is used as a romantic subplot and almost always only shows the man’s perspective without giving characterization to the female character. If character is given, it’s known that she serves to be the love interest.
  • The woman in question seems to already love the man without any explanation as to why.

The reversal sometimes shows up in media. Comics and manga like Eggnoid, Absolute Boyfriend, and movies like George of the Jungle do exist but are rarely seen as the norm. I suspect the reasoning behind this is that women who are sexually skilled and knowledgeable of the ways of the world are seen as intimidating, maybe

So the gist I’ve gotten is that being able to be someone’s first and teach them everything without having to develop yourself or consider the other person’s feelings or autonomy is what’s passing for love these days. And people seem to be wanting an AI that is programed to love them and only them without putting in any effort to be better versions of themselves. Do people even know what love is?

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Baby don’t hurt me.

Relationships Are Complex

I’m not going to go through the whole trouble of explaining what makes relationships work because everyone’s seen the Facebook drivel that oozes saccharine sentiments on just how you should love another person. So, in order to not insult the intellect of the masses I’ll reduce it to a few fine points:

  • Respect: relationships can only be built if you genuinely respect another person as another person. They’re autonomous beings outside of you and don’t exist for your benefit.
  • Honesty: While respecting another’s privacy is important, a certain amount of transparency and openness is required.
  • Communication: Actively listening and working on your communication skills are crucial to maintaining relationships, you can’t ignore this.
  • Vulnerability and Emotional Labor: Close relationships require vulnerability and emotional labor to be expended on all parties involved. Taking another’s feelings into consideration and

People are Afraid of Intimacy?

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 11.04.21 AM

Honestly, the idea of falling in love with a program that caters to your needs is downright uncanny because I know that real relationships with flesh and blood human beings is nowhere near as simple or easy. Relationships take time to develop and there are no shortcuts to earning trust. You cannot cheat your way out of emotional labor and expect to have a healthy and happy relationship with another person.

The downside to all of this hard work is that it can easily be all for naught. Relationships change over time, failure happens, and rejection is an ever present reality. It takes a lot to trust in someone else because vulnerability can easily be taken advantage of, and nobody wants that. It’s because of this that fear of intimacy is understandable: we simply live in a society where people don’t trust each other.

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A simple Google search reveals plenty.

So, what now?

So, we have all this knowledge, what do we do with it? We know AI are no real substitute for humans (please hold all Blade Runner comments). We also know that relationships are complex, full of complex factors (anxiety, abuse, isolation, ect), and are generally messy with no perfect or satisfying answers that every single person. Is it worth it to try and connect with another human being?

xeno-the-human-connection-e1471597077141
Artists certainly think so,

While we have little control over the things that happen in our lives, we still have the ability to control our reactions to what is thrown at us. We can’t control people or how they initially respond to us. All we can do is take our experiences—both positive and negative—and use what we’ve learned in order to better ourselves. Your personal growth as a human being is important because one cannot understand others without first understanding oneself.

TL;DR: Artificial Intelligence is no substitute for human interaction and relationships and you are encouraged to seek out relationships and to better yourself.

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