In the span of two or three hours on the radio this morning I caught two discussions regarding the direction of our lives, leaving me with an unsettling feeling. The first program was about the new social phenomenon called ‘hooking up’. Several college age young ladies expressed similiar views: they were tired of trying to find a mate in the traditional manner, by meeting someone and dating to see if that might lead to marriage.
Frustrated by either meeting only the wrong kind of guys or none at all, they had tried other new age methods such as speed dating, all to no avail. So, now they had turned to hooking up, that is, picking up or being picked up by someone for nothing more than meaningless sex, and continuing to hope that the right guy would eventually come along.
As a single male, I found that attitude sad, disturbing and even ignorant. I know that if I met a young lady and found out that she had engaged in such behavior, my interest in her would immediately diminish if not totally evaporate. And yet, I know that to many people my attitude is chauvinistic if not downright sexist. They would point out that guys do that all the time. Perhaps. But, must society, like the media, play to the lowest common denominator? If so, what next? Male brothels? Gigolos for young, single women? Unsettling indeed.
The other radio program was about the ways in which technology is affecting our social lives. A guest on the program was an author who had researched the matter and written a book about it, and his conclusions were for the most part negative. I tuned in too late to catch his name or that of his book, but Iistening to him, the host and the various people who called in, again left me saddened.
It was variously pointed out that people are either trying to simulate or substitute real, live, person to person encounters and relationships with lists of internet ‘friends’ they’ve never really met and probably never will, except to exchange self serving photographs and ephemeral information. Even in cases where some of those people on the list really are friends or relatives, these social network sites are increasingly being used as substitutes for the old fashioned personal contact that even a private phone call can produce, thus isolating people even more.
Just as it has been sad to see more and more young men spending countless hours in isolation playing video games rather than playing outside with their friends in the fresh air, exercising more muscles than those in their thumbs, we are now faced with a generation of people who measure their social acceptance and popularity by the number of views to their face book page or the number of tweets they accumulate.
To be sure, there were a number of people who called in to express the opposite point of view, such as the man who pointed out how valuable twitter and the social networking sites are for the promotion of business and propagation of information, such as books. Fair enough, but then why is there no distinction being drawn between business and social networking?
Is it unfair or too soon to point out, as some did, that there is a correlation between these technologies designed to make life better and the rise in such things as obesity, diabetes, mental illness and childhood crime? Yes, it is very unsettling.
Causes Frank Pineiro Supports