Love in the Time of La La Land

Pop Culture

Love in the Time of La La Land

Illustration: Akshita Monga


n a much-discussed New York Times essay in 2012, Christy Wampole wrote about Caucasian hipster millennials, whose “primary mode” of dealing with daily life was irony and who were in “a competition to see who can care the least”. “Irony is the most self-defensive mode,” she wrote, “as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices… To live ironically is to hide in public. It is flagrantly indirect… Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.”

I read the essay again last year, around the time I was at a strange juncture in my romantic life. There was a boy and at the same time… there wasn’t. We were in a relationship and simultaneously… we weren’t. This ambiguity wasn’t just a definition of my status – nearly everyone around me seemed to be paddling inexpertly through a river of uncertainty, grasping at meaning. Euphemisms, prevarication and subterfuge seemed to line the banks of love, strewn with phrases like “But it’s only been a year” or “This is moving too fast” or “We are not there yet”. Wampole’s diagnosis of “flagrant indirectness” seemed to distil the essence of a generation’s attitude and its carefully meditated waltz around the idea of love.