The hook-up culture legitimately confounds me. In attempt to begin to understand it, I’ve drafted up a list of possible explanations for why college students nearly everywhere volunteer as tributes in the “oh-so-college” rendition of the Thirsty Games (yes, all are as terrible as that pun):
- We’re horny AF.
- Our egos are desperate for validation.
- We’ve become socially incapable of genuine, non-sexual connection because of stupid technology and social media (head nod to Facebook pokes, Twitter dm’s, Instagram likes and Tinder swipes).
- All of the above. Oh God, someone send help.
Still, I wonder, can all of us really be so lonely and stupid that we don’t realize random hook-ups only make us lonelier? So perhaps, we do realize it. Perhaps, we’re not looking for anything at all, but running away from everything: commitment, actual feelings, heartbreak and the list of middle school melodrama that goes on. And on.
Essentially, I can’t decide if we’re all jerks or cowards. And worse, I can’t decide if I find any fault in us. Because that checklist of terror—the commitment, the heartbreak, the blah blah blah—is paralyzing.
Now that right there—that feeling of paralysis—is part of the problem. So many people (not mentioning any names… okay, me. It’s me) say they hate the hook-up culture and they blame it for their single status. You may think it’s just girls who complain about it in the bathroom. And that’s fair, but inaccurate. Everybody wants a partner-in-crime—it’s instinctual, inescapable. Loneliness doesn’t discriminate by gender. So pretend you want independence all you want—perfect that performance, I dare you—but at the end of the day you’re desperate for human connection just like the rest of us. Blame our biology, our humanity. Blame your mom and dad for being so freakin’ happy.
I have to wonder if we really all hate the hook-up culture so much—if we really wanted to get out of it as badly as we say we do… wouldn’t we? Wouldn’t we all just zip our pants and throw our hands up and say “No more!” and actually begin to act like adults who, dare I say, get to know each other?
Nobody wants to hear this, but there’s some part of us that holds onto the hook-up culture. Some of us actively participate in it, and some of us are bystanders who still subconsciously—if not actively—generate the culture.
I, for example, am a terrible culprit. I’m quite a prude (hear that mom? Fourteen years of Catholic education coming in clutch). But I always, always ask my girl and guy friends before going out, “So, you going to make plays tonight?” And I’m terribly obsessed with their “love” lives. Wait! Who did he hook up with last night? Tell me everything. And I squeal every time my girlfriends give me the dirty details about their hook-ups. He pushed you up against the elevator door and kissed you? Ohmygod, you pretty much hooked up with Christian Grey.
To save face, I’d like to shift some of the blame onto others. Let’s take this very publication as an example. Like all thirteen-year-old boys everywhere, we CM writers—and our readers—are obsessed with sex. Don’t believe me? Our most popular articles include gems such as “CM’s Top 10 Colleges with the Hottest Girls,” “CM’s Top 10 Colleges with the Hottest Guys” (gender equality, ladies and gentlemen), and “10 Ways to Get into Her Pants.” And, yes. I did write a sequel of sorts to that because I, too, am gross.
But don’t stop racking up government flags on your search history. Just type the word “sex” into the search bar. Barely skim the results (barring porn) and you’ll stumble upon ridiculous and hilarious headlines like “Flowers that Say, ‘Let’s Have Sex’,” “Sex in the Morning: A Reason to Rise and Shine,” and “Have a Very Sexy Easter.” Happy Resurrection, Jesus!
Please, someone tell me: what is happening? Do we hate the hook-up culture or love it? Do we want to unleash sexuality or restrict it? Are our sex lives—no matter how active or non-existent—something to be ashamed of or something to celebrate? I swear confusion like this is exactly why, sometimes, I want to screw it all (puns everywhere) and become celibate.
I have no idea what our next move is, but I’m sorry, folks, I see no happy ending for us. I think “hook-up” has become synonymous with college. And I think alcohol has, too, and I don’t know how to fix that. I feel like we saw the “No Turn Back” sign on the Selfish, Immature and Amoral Generation Highway long ago and laughed as we sped past it. I’m well aware I’m a damn good cynic but, hey, I am a fan of Romeo and Juliet– I’ve just come to the conclusion that love’s no antidote. I think we have to escape college—leave it far behind—to break loose from the chains of the hook-up culture.
Til then, I’ll see you on the battlefield.