The Problem With Hook-Up Culture

The world of dating has, for the past decade or so, slowly been transitioning to posting biographies, personality traits, interests, political affiliations, sexual preferences, and anything else that makes a person unique to a website. If someone types in the right keywords, they can find your profile, see if you match up, email you, and a relationship could very well blossom. From there, we moved on to computerized metrics, where this same information, plus a personality quiz, can show you how well you match up with someone else.

In the modern era, the use of mobile technology (cell phones, etc.) has given way to apps like Tinder, where you merely look at a photo of someone, a short bio, matching interests, and swipe on their name or tap a button saying you like or dislike them. Such easy access to other people via smart phones, devices most people have on them at all times, has made one thing in particular much more easily accessible: hooking up.

In the past, hooking up required going to a bar, buying drinks, having conversation, and an ill-advised drunken drive back home for a night (or maybe more, depending on how well the two click) together. There was social interaction and the requirement of actually having to get to know someone before you slept with them. However, the removal of key (if not inebriated) social interactions and just using typed-out words and photos to determine where you get your jollies for the evening is one of the biggest cultural shifts in personal connections we’ve ever seen.

There is a social cost to this, as well. The modern era has split the idea of love and sex into two separate entities, under the basis that both are separate human needs. At a base level, this is true: The drive to procreate in nature is not driven by love, but by an instinctive compulsion to continue the genetic line. The evolutionary addition pleasure to the act of sex has further complicated this, and in contemporary society, “if it feels good, do it” is more and more the norm. But, there is a very distinct difference between sex and love being different needs and the two being psychologically unrelated. Love and lust, a study found, come from the same part of the brain.

Hooking up, however, and the promotion of the culture around it, attempts to strip away the connection between the two, however, focusing almost solely on the physical pleasure. That’s not to suggest that you should only sleep with who you are going to spend the rest of your life with, as that particular cat is long out of the bag and not going back in. Still, what this means is that some sort of connection between the two partners should be established, and it is very difficult to build that connection through pictures and text only.

The cost of this cultural shift could be significant. If more and more people are choosing to reject the emotional and focus solely on the physical, a near-evolutionary change in the psychology and sociology of relationships will lead to further de-emphasis of the family. This de-emphasis could have lasting negative effects on the mental and emotional well-being of both children and adults.