Generation Y

Hodge: Desire for immediacy reflected in casual dating culture

When I got accepted into Syracuse University, I began to imagine my casual dating lifestyle. It would be filled with lots of adorable, shy smiles and anxious heartbeats – straight out of a Reese Witherspoon movie.

After all, I was told college is synonymous with “casual dating.” Whatever that is.

The reality is this: today’s so-called “love” is subject to the speeds and feeds of the Internet. As innovators, techies, texters and tweeters, our generation is known for its desire for immediacy in all aspects of our lives.

From gathering information and news to socializing with anyone and everyone on the web, we want satisfaction promptly before us.

The same can be said of our romantic encounters. We want everything now. Immediately, not even two minutes from now. This is why we are, for better or for worse, the random hook-up generation.

The random-hook-up culture is, to some extent, part and parcel of the college environment. It allows students to go out at night and receive attention from someone, with no emotional strings attached.

Making out (or more) at a party with a stranger is now an accepted right of passage, and it marks a new milestone in the already-confusing relationships between men and women.

Moving fast is the new norm.

Our technology has made it easier to socialize online than in person, forcing us into a world where physical interaction can occur before an intellectual or emotional relationship is even formed.

Basking in the comfort of being behind a laptop screen or mobile application, we are more inclined to message someone on Facebook instead of sucking up the courage to look them in the eye and interact.

At a party, the desire for attention and the inability to connect with someone (without lips involved) causes a random hook-up to succeed instead of a brief background check of another person or a remotely intelligent conversation.

Often, a hook-up occurs before a real conversation ever takes place – if it is even held between the two involved.

Names may not be given. A complete disregard for the other person’s identity is shown. People want a random and emotionless – but sometimes passionate – experience with a stranger.

Then there are the unspoken rules of such short flings.

There is no “post-fling” acknowledgement. You are just two people who happened to swap spit the night before.

The other person may even run away from you if they are so hell-bent on maintaining the “minimal interaction” guideline.

But what happens when emotions become involved between two classmates, two floormates or even two friends?

Things become complicated. Random hook-ups are supposed to be easy and uncomplicated. But as we all know, relationships never are.

What happened to the days where “going steady” with a guy was ideal – remember the days of “Bye Bye Birdie” and “Grease”? When did random make-out sessions become the topic of breakfast conversations taking place in college dining halls across the country?

The simple act of kissing was once considered an act that was only appropriate between two people in a relationship. It was the denouement of great fiction, drama and poetry for centuries.

That has all changed.

In addition to being great innovators and the “promise of tomorrow,” we have also totally ruined the centuries-old standards of romance.

Florid love letters and great stories of missed moments and yearning no longer mark the early stages of romance and affection.

Shakespeare and Jane Austen, move over. For our generation, we want fast Internet connections and even faster hook-ups. No personal exchange needed.

Anna Hodge is a freshman magazine journalism major. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at ahodge@syr.edu and followed on Twitter at @annabhodge.

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