First off I want to say that I am happily in a relationship and the guy I am with is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I wrote this piece last year for a school assignment in my argumentative writing class. I was 20 and single and feeling as if the odds were against me. Even though I’m no longer 20 and single I still believe the ideas in this piece are relevant.
I chose to format my argument as a letter written to my mom. I believe that the topic is very current and a real issue that college aged kids face and I thought that writing a letter to my mom would help connect my argument to my personal experiences with this topic. A letter written to my mom is also a lot more casual than an academic paper which helps people relate to it on a higher level. As I was doing this assignment I tried to incorporate the tone and word choice I would use if I were to actually send this off to my mom. Everyone has been asked about the relationships in their life at least once, in my case the topic comes up every holiday season and so this is a way to explain to them how the dating culture has evolved since their day. More specifically my mom was the best choice of audience for this letter because I am very close with her and actually talk to her about these issues I face. I don’t often talk about the boy troubles in my life to my grandparents, aunts or uncles so even though they ask I wouldn’t want to share the details of the hookup culture with them. My goal of the argument was to combine the thoughts of outside sources with my own beliefs and experiences to get people to begin and think about how technology might be effecting their own lives.
I’m dreading this holiday season! Every year when the whole family gathers together, I am bound to be asked about the boys in my life, and then questioned further as to why I’m still single. It’s really uncomfortable. Every year the aunts ask the same questions, thinking or rather hoping my answer changes, but it never does. It’s a valid question. When Grandma was my age she was married. All of your siblings, including yourself, met the one they were going to marry by the time they were twenty-one. That is less than two years away for me!
Mom, to be truthful times have changed and people don’t really date anymore. The traditional dinner and then go to a drive-in movie has turned into “Netflix and chill.” And no Mom, that is not where you grab the popcorn, watch a movie and just hang out.
When I left home and came to Cal Poly I wasn’t expecting the dating scene to be so dehumanized and engulfed in a culture that has been socially warped by technology. We go to the library, where we are surrounded by books yet work on computers. We walk around campus with our head phones in looking down at our phones, oblivious of the world around us. We pass by people we’ve never talked to but know their life story because we follow them on social media. We text instead of talk. We prioritize the technology in our lives. But most of all, technology has propelled a culture where we keep things casual and don’t commit.
I remember the stories you and Grandma used to tell about picnics in the park and trips to the zoo. How the guy would pick you up at your front door with flowers in his hand. How you would have such a fun day, but had to remember to be home before curfew. That’s what I want, but man is that far from what’s available! First, it’s rare for any form of social interaction to even begin before nine! And with texting being so immediate you don’t have to plan anything. Asking someone to hang out last minute is common. That’s another thing, the phrase “hanging out” has come to replace the word dating. When we hang out to watch a movie there is no communication, no way to test out their character or personality.
At a party when someone is flirting with me the conversations are all surface level. It’s generally how good you look, then proceed to ask you back to their place with the expectation that before there is time to talk in the morning you are out the door. It’s frustrating! People don’t ever spend time getting to know the thoughts and beliefs of anyone they’re with. That is the world I am dealing with! How am I supposed to find a lasting relationship or any type of connection for that matter if all our interactions are unplanned and have no intimate meaning?
Since coming to college I haven’t ever gotten ready for a real date, but I’ve spent a good amount of time making sure I looked perfect to just hang out with a guy. This new form of dating is so broad and last minute. From my own experiences and those of my friends, when we do hang out with a guy often times we don’t go to dinner or spend any time talking. More often then not we’ll be invited over to “Netflix and chill”. You may as well know that’s code for hooking up and can range from just kissing to sex and anything in between. Even the definition of what we are doing with one another is vague!
I’m tired of the craze of everyone judging everything purely based on appearances, the visual. I thought college was supposed to be a time where you find out who you are and what you like and make your best friends that will last a lifetime. But that is not at all what I’ve come to find. I’ve found the most superficial and judgmental environment and it’s all because of everyone’s obsession with social media. In the world of social media everything is critiqued and approval is translated with how many likes you get. I believe that social media has generated an atmosphere where looks are everything, which isn’t a good base because photoshop and filters are everywhere now. Sure, appearances have always been a factor, but it has escalated greatly since you were figuring out the dating scene. It shows up especially strong in our current hookup culture, reinforced by meeting apps like Tinder.
I’m noticing how everything in life can be looked at as a game, where there is generally a winner and a loser. That is hard to grasp at first but hang in there with me. All of my peers and I were the first generation to have access to computers in our homes. It was awesome because I could come home from school and play my favorite computer games like “putt putt saves the zoo” or “backyard baseball”. These were the go to games when I was in elementary school. As we passed through the school system and technology made its advancements video games become very realistic. It started off with “sims” and with the latest X box games we were put in the game right along side other characters. These games have carried over into real life and our interactions with one another.
Texting has become a game where whoever cares less wins. Every text sent is perfectly sculpted where it matters how long it is, how many emojis are used and how long one should wait to reply. A whole bunch of mind games is what it is! Social media is a game of how many likes you get and if a certain somebody liked a certain picture.
Back in your day one would have to pick up the phone to ask their crush out on a date. This takes planning as well as courage. Now all one has to do is send a quick text or Facebook message. Many believe that it takes out the charm and care of dating. Others believe that texting is safer as rejection is less harsh. For me, I think that texting the guy you like takes just as much courage as talking to him because with messaging there is the chance he won’t reply at all. Face to face conversations at least pushes that you’ll get an answer. Texting doesn’t necessarily take out the charm, but often it leaves you trying to find a deeper meaning to a text. This goes back to the games of it all. For me personally I don’t want to type out how I feel to then get a three word response in return. In that case I would have felt as if I had lost.
While that’s how texting may work with someone I like, it is completely different with someone who is just trying to hook up with me. That is when all the charm is taken away. When I first downloaded the Tinder app I was amused at the array of pickup lines people used. Some were really creative, but after a while reality kicked in and it became disgusting. Mom you’d be shocked at what communication and interaction have come to. These apps open up the availability to treat others with less respect and more as an object. I would not like my future spouse talking to me in that way! But others believe that it’s okay on these types of apps because they don’t go there for anything more than to meet people and have care free fun. Which I think is a bummer because when you have the mind set of only having hookups it eliminates the possibility of anything greater coming of the situation.
The idea of hooking up has become just another game too. When you get a match on Tinder it literally pops up asking if you want to message them or to keep playing. Indicating that the more matches you get the better you’re doing. My friends are all over Tinder, comparing who matched with attractive people and who has met up with more. Hooking up makes it so there is not a clear loser. The idea behind it is that you don’t have to show any vulnerabilities or emotions when hooking up because by keeping it casual and less invested you can’t have heartbreak.
I understand that back in your day people hooked up and participated in casual relationships as well. It probably wasn’t as spoken about, but Tinder and other similar apps have blown up the hook up culture making it more accessible and accepted. People will tell you that they don’t have time for a relationship.That’s just another way of saying that they don’t want to commit but are okay with continuing to hook up casually. They get the sex without the emotions. That is one thing that Tinder is able to supply. Tinder opens you up to thousands of options and there is always another person you can swipe on. This means that you never have to commit to just one because there is always the possibility of a better one coming along. And who wants to miss such an opportunity? When you have all these options, why choose?
Believe me Mom, as much as you want me to have a boyfriend, I want me to have one even more! I was raised watching Disney movies and playing dress up in your wedding dress. I believe in love and want romance. That’s hard to find now a days because of how technology has become so engrained in our brains and reflected in our behaviors. The hookup culture amongst college campuses have been brought forth by the habits we have developed since we were young. Whether that be how we’ve become so appearance set that we forget that personality and values matter, or because there are now endless options that there is no point in choosing just one. Although I still believe in the happily ever after it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards right now.
Lots of Love,
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