Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Romance is dead. Thanks, NOKIA

Alex Williams writes today in the New York Times that young people are continuing to have trouble with dating because they're all texting and gchatting and shit, and now the young people are growing up into confused twenty-somethings who don't get why "uwana d8 lol" isn't an appropriate method of courtship.  Mr. Williams, take it away:

MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one. 

Fair enough. 

“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.” 

It sounds like the problem is less anything to do with OkCupid or people in general, and more that this one dude has no clue what the word "date" means.

Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”

Here, let me try!  He texted, “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?  I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”  Let's apply the secret decoder ring:

Looks like what he was trying to communicate was “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?  I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”  Don't feel bad--I do have this awesome decoder ring, so I'm basically a cold war spy.  Anyway, the problem here appears to still just be that this one dude doesn't know what a date is, or has some really weird ideas about group dating with his college friends, or he's a dark-eyed musician with disheveled hair and with that whole Twilight craze people are into that right now so he doesn't really have to put much effort into dating, you know?

“It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship. 

You guys, they're breaking the rules and it's changing everything.  As an aside, if you want to get dinner at a romantic new bistro, one good way to make that happen is ask someone "Do you want to get dinner at <name of romantic new bistro>?"  A less good way is to hope that they guess that you want to do that and then talk about how their code words are inscrutable.

Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Hey, I'm 25 and I'm not confused at all!  I just go up to people and ask "Can I land you as my boyfriend or girlfriend?"  They're usually a bit unclear as to why I used the word "land" and said both boyfriend and girlfriend, and the response is pretty much the same every time.

“The new date is ‘hanging out,’ ” said Denise Hewett, 24, an associate television producer in Manhattan, who is currently developing a show about this frustrating new romantic landscape. As one male friend recently told her: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.”

You chose the strangest individuals to interview for this.  This guy legitimately can't be bothered to alter his own plans at all for a date?  This isn't a generational shift, it's just a lazy dude.

 For evidence, look no further than “Girls,” HBO’s cultural weather vane for urban 20-somethings, where none of the main characters paired off in a manner that might count as courtship even a decade ago. In Sunday’s opener for Season 2, Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver), who last season forged a relationship by texting each other nude photos, are shown lying in bed, debating whether being each other’s “main hang” constitutes actual dating.

"For evidence, let's look at fictional television shows and see what characters on TV are doing."  If you did this a decade ago, you'd assume it was totally normal for people to gather in groups of six and frolic in public fountains.

The actors in the show seem to fare no better in real life, judging by a monologue by Zosia Mamet (who plays Shoshanna, the show’s token virgin, since deflowered) at a benefit last fall at Joe’s Pub in the East Village. Bemoaning an anything-goes dating culture, Ms. Mamet, 24, recalled an encounter with a boyfriend whose idea of a date was lounging in a hotel room while he “Lewis and Clarked” her body, then tried to stick her father, the playwright David Mamet, with the bill, according to a Huffington Post report.

The very strangest part of this whole paragraph is that this person has Huffington Post reporting on her dating experience in a hotel room.

Hookups may be fine for college students, but what about after, when they start to build an adult life? The problem is that “young people today don’t know how to get out of hookup culture,” Ms. Freitas said. In interviews with students, many graduating seniors did not know the first thing about the basic mechanics of a traditional date. “They’re wondering, ‘If you like someone, how would you walk up to them? What would you say?

"Hi.  How are you?" (IMPORTANT: let them answer that before you proceed)  "Not bad!  Want to go out sometime?"  This isn't that complicated.

What words would you use?’ ” Ms. Freitas said. 

This is just sad.  "What words would you use?"  The same damn ones you use the rest of the time.  There aren't special words for asking someone out, you just ask them.  Or, you could try Amy Poehler's approach, where you just go up to someone and act like you're dating them until they forget that you aren't.

That may explain why “dates” among 20-somethings resemble college hookups, only without the dorms. Lindsay, a 25-year-old online marketing manager in Manhattan, recalled a recent non-date that had all the elegance of a keg stand (her last name is not used here to avoid professional embarrassment).

After an evening when she exchanged flirtatious glances with a bouncer at a Williamsburg nightclub, the bouncer invited her and her friends back to his apartment for whiskey and boxed macaroni and cheese. When she agreed, he gamely hoisted her over his shoulders, and, she recalled, “carried me home, my girlfriends and his bros in tow, where we danced around a tiny apartment to some MGMT and Ratatat remixes.”
  1.  When the bouncer from a nightclub asks you and your friends over for whiskey and mac and cheese, that is not a date or a "date" or anything of the sort.  Comparing this to your nostalgic view of dating in the past is pretty ridiculous, because as it happens people in the past also would go home with each other after being at nightclubs, so it's just a different thing that people still do and used to do, too.
  2. Whiskey and mac and cheese sounds awful at first, but for some reason the more I think about it the more I want it.
  3. Did he really carry her home?
Relationship experts point to technology as another factor in the upending of dating culture.

Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of “asynchronous communication,” as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it’s more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.

Hey, online rejection can hurt too!  One time someone just tweeted this picture to me as a response, and let me tell you, I was devastated.

“I’ve seen men put more effort into finding a movie to watch on Netflix Instant than composing a coherent message to ask a woman out,” said Anna Goldfarb, 34, an author and blogger in Moorestown, N.J. 

I mean, have you tried picking a movie on Netflix recently?  I watched Clueless one goddamn time and now all it recommends are 90s pseudo-comedy chick flicks.

A typical, annoying query is the last-minute: “Is anything fun going on tonight?” More annoying still are the men who simply ping, “Hey” or “ ’sup.”

Personally, I prefer an understated "WAZZZZZAAAAAA!!!"

“What does he think I’m doing?” she said. “I’m going to my friend’s house to drink cheap white wine and watch episodes of ‘Dance Moms’ on demand.”

What makes you think I wouldn't be interested in this?  WAZZZZZAAAAA!!!!!

Dodgy economic prospects facing millennials also help torpedo the old, formal dating rituals. Faced with a lingering recession, a stagnant job market, and mountains of student debt, many young people — particularly victims of the “mancession” — simply cannot afford to invest a fancy dinner or show in someone they may or may not click with.

If you're going to use words like "mancession", can you at least tell me what that is?  I had to spend five whole seconds Googling.

What, you thought I'd just tell you?  You can look it up the same way I did.
Further complicating matters is the changing economic power dynamic between the genders, as reflected by a number of studies in recent years, said Hanna Rosin, author of the recent book “The End of Men.”

A much-publicized study by Reach Advisors, a Boston-based market research group, found that the median income for young, single, childless women is higher than it is for men in many of the country’s biggest cities (though men still dominate the highest-income jobs, according to James Chung, the company’s president).  This may be one reason it is not uncommon to walk into the hottest new West Village bistro on a Saturday night and find five smartly dressed young women dining together — the nearest man the waiter. Income equality, or superiority, for women muddles the old, male-dominated dating structure.

So, earlier you were bemoaning the move away from "traditional" dating, and now you're saying that income equality is muddling the old dating structure which was dominated by men.  I'm not an expert at the transitive property, but I can sorta figure where this is headed.

“Maybe there’s still a sense of a man taking care of a woman, but our ideology is aligning with the reality of our finances,” Ms. Rosin said. As a man, you might “convince yourself that dating is passé, a relic of a paternalistic era, because you can’t afford to take a woman to a restaurant.”

Yep!  Men hate dating now because they can't afford it, and asking a woman to split the bill would just be the worst, right?  After all, it's not about getting to know someone--it's about making sure she knows how much cash you have, and if the answer is not much, what's the point?

Many young men these days have no experience in formal dating and feel the need to be faintly ironic about the process — “to ‘date’ in quotation marks” — because they are “worried that they might offend women by dating in an old-fashioned way,” Ms. Rosin said.

 If you're worried about offending someone, just do the same thing you were going to do, but do it ironically!  This is why hipsters are so universally loved.

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