The Brooklyn College Vanguard

The Hookup Culture: The Decaying of Our Empathy

The aesthetic of the venue is uninvitingly crummy as you and your friends step in line. At the entrance miles ahead, bouncers are ushering people in like sheep, all while exercising their authority to be the professional asswipe they feel entitled to be. You catch sight of your reflection at the window and instinctively fix your posture. “I’m definitely going to score one tonight,” you think to yourself. After a few more narcissistic episodes, it’s finally your turn for the quintessential NYC-style patdown, a barrage of claps that always find nothing. Before you know it, they end the experience with a rough stamping of the hand and usher the crowd in with their condescending stare.  As you make your way towards the main hall, the hairs on your arm start dancing and with a quick turn at the corridor, you step into a room overlooking a huge ecstatic crowd. The first thought that pops up is, “Who is this DJ and what was his name again? DJ Avella? Avido? Aveeno? No wait, that’s a lotion brand.”

You go and buy yourself a Whiskey sour before reconnecting with the gang. As you take that first sip, you make sure to tilt your head a little further back in order to scan the scene; a classic, textbook move. But the vibe is definitely here and you’re more confident than ever about tonight. So song after song, you and your gang laughed with each other, celebrating the end of the workweek. You’ve all just won another battle and there are only 2000 more before winning the war… Then in the corner, a thing of beauty catches your attention.

What happens next is something that needs no explaining. There is no need to elaborate on the “why” due to how you could automatically understand what I mean, thus, revealing a concept long ingrained in the fabric of society. However, if you claim you didn’t understand, you probably wouldn’t be reading this since you would still be scrutinizing in-between the lines trying to decipher. But for clarity’s sake, I am describing the hookup culture prevalent in today’s society.

But how did it come to be? A theory is that it derives from our country’s success with capitalism and the unhealthy obsession with consumption that follows. Over time, it led us to rely on and prefer convenience over substance. Achieving high living standards is beneficial for the well being of our survival but it added little to the intrinsic value of living. It eroded our ways of communication with each other, how we build our relationships, and even in our reactions and reflections. How I would describe today’s hookup culture is people trying to maximize the experiences of intimacy and characteristics of a healthy relationship from something that is nothing more than a shell. It’s the equivalent of achieving something without merit and hard work. People are acting upon a caricature of something genuine, but lacking the real experience(s) they are seeking. Lisa Wade, a well-known sociologist and essayist speak more about this in her book, American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus, centering around the sexual lives of college students across the country. Her agenda is to scrutinize the subtle dynamics of the hookup culture and to better understand the reasoning behind them. With the help of 101 students and their journal reflections, they assisted Wade with honest insight into how they felt about the hookup culture. In conclusion, Wade describes hookups as something that is more than just behavior or an “established norm” in the college scene; It’s a climate. These hookups are generally meaningless and void of emotional attachment. Students have sex just to have sex and this practice of being emotionally distant catalyzed a general inability to express intimate feelings. Psychology professor and clinical psychologist, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson also brings in his standpoint in an interview with GeenStijil, dictating that your choice to treat other people as casual sexual partners is inversely how you also treat/see yourself.

But the goal of this short excerpt isn’t to tell you that hooking up and having casual partners is morally wrong. If it truly makes you feel happy and is something you want to have in your life, so be it. You are the captain of your own destiny. But by speaking up on something that I don’t see a lot in social or mainstream media, I hope this could feed more into your life, ultimately giving you more power to make the best decision for yourself. Stay tuned for the complete, in-depth version of this piece in the near future.

About Edmund Zhen

Inquisitive.