Donna Frietas’ book, The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Sexual Intimacy, is getting a lot of attention in the mainstream media. In the book, Ms. Frietas analyzes surveys of 2,500 students from 11 campuses to discover that hookups (defined as “fast, uncaring, unthinking, and perfunctory sex”) are perceived as the only romantic option on campuses, even though many of the students interviewed wished it were otherwise. For excerpts from her book, you can look here.
When we were at Princeton a decade ago, hooking up was happening and loudly discussed by some, but it still wasn’t the norm. All of us who blog here were courted by our husbands throughout the college years, and I’d say we all fit pretty well into a wider campus culture of dating.
Relatedly, during college, we checked email on our PCs or on the go from computer clusters and made phone calls from “blue phones” around campus. Wi-fi didn’t exist, and we didn’t collect friends on a social networking site that originated as an online meat market. The tide turned quickly after we graduated (2000-2003) toward Facebook, cell phones, texting, and i-devices.
Obviously iPhones don’t cause hookups or vice-versa, but they probably do work in tandem to disconnect college students from one another and from themselves. From Ms. Frietas:
Moreover, the campus culture-along with the wider culture-has become more superficial with the advance of technology. A frenetic go-go-go and do-do-do pace, increasing in the midst of an economic recession, has put young adults under ever more pressure. They are competing with each other for fewer and fewer jobs, but burdened with greater and greater expectations of success. Such pressure can breed stress, anxiety, and even selfishness, all of which are aided and abetted by technologies that allow us to text rather than call, and to interact superficially and efficiently, with broad swaths of “friends” and followers, through Facebook and Twitter, rather than engage in meaningful interactions face to face with other human beings. This pace and pressure coincide with the attitudes toward others fostered by hookup culture. Rather than looking at the people right in front of us, we look at our phones, preferring to touch a screen rather than the hand of a partner. Instead of engaging in conversation with those sitting next to us, we text, email, and chat with people nowhere near our bodies. We have become more excited about interacting with the various technological devices at our disposal than about developing relationships with real people, even our own children. This prioritizing of technology over in-person interactions does not teach us how to value the life and body of another human being, or what it means to treat others with dignity and respect. Instead, it promotes the idea that in-person relationships are cumbersome and time consuming-better to be dealt with on- line, or, even better, not at all.
The Anscombe Society at Princeton and on other campuses encourages students to choose chastity and healthy courtship amid the campus culture of empty sex. Maybe they need a temperance-in-technology subgroup : )