Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mating Habits

Just when the noise over the glorious wonders of communications technology gets too loud, something like this comes along:
I opened my messages to remind myself what exactly I had sent. There it was, at 10:02 p.m.: “I can’t stop thinking about what I’m now referring to as ‘bench time.’”

O.K., so it was a little confusing. Deep into my third glass of wine, I had thought I was being coy, but the result was somewhat inscrutable. It wasn’t even clear I had enjoyed the experience. Was it possible he thought I was traumatized? Did he think I was accusing him of something?

No, that was ridiculous. He probably had noted my text, smiled, felt as aroused as you can be by a text as vaguely sexual as mine was, and gone to sleep, dreaming of me.

It reads like a neurotic on a speedball. Woody Allen, plus estrogen. It paints a horrendous picture of modern life but unintentionally, as the author is clearly going more for the Stuff White People Like self-deprecation that passes for wit among comfortable yuppies. And in the process, she shows just how miserable modern technology has made dating.

I know I’m one to talk. I met my wife through OK Cupid of all things. But that was a happy accident, like a surprise kitten or drunken anal sex. The exception that proves the rule - the rule being that honest connections are very rarely made through social media and dating apps. Rather than a brave new world of sexual libertinism, this has only lead to the fretful over-analysis of every little keystroke as demonstrated in the above article.

Did it used to be this bad? Probably. Definitely. That might be the ugliest reality about the Web 2.0 era, that all the miseries of life we knew until Steve Jobs was declared the new religion are all still very much in force, no matter how many apps on your iPhone.

Depending on who you ask, Millennials are either having less sex than the flower children of the 60s or they’re having much much more. If you’re reading this, you’re dissatisfied with your personal experience either way. Either not enough or not good enough - rather, whatever porn and erotic fan fiction has taught you to define as “good enough.” The true legacy of the Sexual Revolution was turning physical intimacy into just another commodity to be consumed, like Doritos or presidential candidates. You might have an enviable sex life from the perspective of someone else and still be wishing for a simpler time. Or more booty calls through Tinder.

People have a habit of taking their own lived experience as having some intrinsic meaning. It doesn’t, of course. Human existence is one big Monte Carlo game, and your experiences are no more or less significant than that of six billion other homo sapiens. But that’s not a good mindset, according to marketing. So you’ve been sold on the notion that doing A and B while avoiding C will somehow fulfill that evolutionary drive you have to go out and breed. And maybe you do need to do A and even B, but the particulars of courtship are as random as the results. And random results do not mesh with a constructed personal narrative, inevitably leading to angst as the same guys who brag about their dating app conquests also experience much more impotence.

You also get lots of angry people trying to find some reason why they’re not getting rich or laid. They’ve done all the things “society” says will lead to a roll in the hay, or a corner office, so if it’s not happening then the game must be rigged. Or something. Because the advertising soup that passes for popular culture will never admit to the reality that you can do everything right, play by the rules, cross every T and dot every I, and still get mangled by an exploding crock pot for reasons that never had anything to do with you.

But if you take a step back and accept your lack of control, suddenly everything is much more manageable. The world is not fair and this is not the worst thing that can happen to you. And for fuck’s sake, put down the smartphone already.

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