Our generation likes shortcuts. Instead of challenging ourselves to remember, we Google facts that escape us; we participate in text wars to dodge the awkwardness of confrontation; we ghost people to express our anger or disinterest so we don’t have to engage in difficult, honest conversations. Hookup culture is just another shortcut. It’s how we avoid the pain that comes with romance.
In choosing to be in a relationship, you’ve decided to dedicate yourself to someone: to make time for them when they need you, to take on their fears and goals, to build them into your life. Because of this intense connection, there are bound to be missteps and pitfalls along the way. Who wants to deal with that?
So we choose to hook up: We reap the the physical rewards of a relationship without the emotional fatigue. Making out, sex, and everything in between — all with no strings attached. Sounds perfect, right?
But every shortcut has a downside, and the problem with hookup culture is that it has resulted in an abandonment of our manners.
Bear with me while I resurrect the mistakes of 16-year-old Isabella.
For a few months in high school, there was one guy I’d hook up with when we attended parties together. We didn’t ever have much to talk about, except when I lied about my music taste to impress him (now I’m unapologetic about my love for Taylor Swift). Still, the situation was mutually beneficial. But one night, after we made out at a party, I left early. The next day, one of my friends told me he’d been with another girl just hours later.
No matter how much I pretended not to care, that stung. Even though we weren’t dating, it just seemed like common courtesy to wait at least a day before hooking up with someone else. Maybe I was too sensitive or I didn’t understand how limited our relationship was, but I have trouble believing others in my position wouldn’t be upset too.
When we reduce each other to objects for physical pleasure, as hookup culture suggests we do, our manners tend to evaporate. But just because we aren’t dating someone doesn’t mean we have no loyalty to the person we’re hooking up with.
These impolite tendencies of our generation can also be seen through trends like ghosting. Ignoring someone you’ve been seeing has become the solution for growing frustrated or tired with that person. Imagine being on the receiving end of this, and left powerless in a relationship with no means of communication with your ghoster. This cruel practice is widely condoned.
At Penn, I’ve heard people debriefing with friends, gossiping and trash-talking their hookup from a frat party about their appearance and physical performance. While it’s normal to discuss these things, if we truly want hookup culture to be unemotional, we shouldn’t engage in childish kissing and telling. Because odds are, the other person will find out.
I’m not condemning hookup culture. For better or worse, it’s not going anywhere. Still, we as individuals have the power to make it healthier by treating one another with respect.
Again, my intent is not to come off as condescending. I, too, have been complicit in the problems I’m discussing. But the emotional dangers of hookup culture warrant a conversation, because when you treat someone poorly, emotions inevitably get entangled.
Here, at Penn, I don’t know many people in monogamous relationships. Hookup culture dominates this campus.
So however problematic Valentine’s Day may be, it lends us the opportunity to see how our generation’s attitude towards romance has, in a sense, robbed us of our manners. Take it from 16-year-old Isabella, hookup culture can take a real toll on one’s feelings; let’s acknowledge it.
ISABELLA SIMONETTI is a College freshman from New York studying English. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org