Sunday, June 20, 2021

Living on Love Island

Elle Cheng Li Ling | Contributing Reporter

Image | Zhai Qiutong

Kindred spirits who have not shunned me for watching Love Island Australia! [more people exit.] Hello for real now! Most of us can admit to enjoying guilty pleasures in the form of mindless reality TV binging, but I’d like to believe that you’ve had your few moments of recognising actual reality in some of these shows. 

No, not the reality where people go on a game show genuinely believing that they will meet their soulmate. Not when that soulmate would be found, out of 7 billion people in the world, picked up from homebase Australia and plopped onto a random Spanish island just like all the 22 other love-seeking participants. 

But can we only think them naive? Many of us toy with the idea of our one special person being somewhere out there on this planet. For some, this game is so certain and plausible that it’s all only a matter of waiting. This fidget-spinner whirls in the back of our minds during our day-to-day interactions and even in newly-formed connections. Tell me you’ve never had the thought “Are We possible?” flash across your mind in spite yourself.

On Love Island, new people are gradually introduced while some you may say are ‘eliminated’. To stay, you have to remain coupled up with someone else even when you know they aren’t The One. You want to stay because there is the belief that your soulmate will eventually walk through the door (and because you want that 50 Grand Prize but of course we’re only here for love). Time is ticking and your chances are limited. Time is ticking and we wonder just when will our special person waltz in and make it all better. 

Sound familiar? It is unspoken but we seem to expect that love will arrive by a certain time, whether that timeline is in terms of when we’d most like to get married, when we think we are most eligible, or when we believe are the important parts of life that should be shared. Rationally, we think meeting at 50 is fine! (I’m independent.) But in the back of our minds float the 30 odd years that we could have spent together and had that much-needed love and support. 

Could this whole article just be me trying to justify how I could suspend my disbelief and remain an audience to what may be performative romance and plain objectification of the sexes? Maybe! But that I could believe even for a second in the contestants’ devotion to finding love was suggestive of those elements which I found familiar. We believe in what we most want to. 

So I’ve laid plain my hopeless romantic heart and what more could you ask for on Valentine’s Day.

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