Showing you care
Debunking the college-age norm of hiding our emotions
The other day while I was perusing my Facebook newsfeed instead of doing the million things on my to-do list, I came upon an article called ““Why Is College Dating So Screwed Up”:http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/relationship-advice/college-dating-screwed-up?” Normally, I wouldn’t have read an article from Cosmopolitan, but the person who shared it with me claimed it summed up everything problematic about relationships at schools like U.Va.
Written by Harvard graduate Charlotte Lieberman, the article discusses what I believe is one of the biggest problems with today’s dating scene and hookup culture: the prevalence of “general passivity.” Lieberman says our generation’s growing dependence on technology encourages our inability to adequately communicate, devalues the importance of face-to-face interaction and makes it harder for us to emotionally connect one another.
Lieberman described it as the battle of “whoever cares less wins.” Power comes from being the one in the relationship who cares less about the other, offering you protection from hurt and heartache, ensuring you always have the upper hand.
We are all far too familiar with this scenario — I know my friends and I have all definitely experienced this phenomenon. I often hear people categorize it as “a U.Va. thing,” saying our work hard/play hard mindset isn’t conducive to meaningful relationships, but I disagree.
Having spoken to friends at other schools, I definitely think this is a trend throughout our generation, and it isn’t restricted to romantic relationships. The majority of people our age have simply lost an appreciation for genuine, personal contact and communication.
Whenever I call people to talk on the phone, they always sound surprised I am reaching out to them so directly, like something must be wrong or else I would have sent a text. Even texting apparently seems forward these days. I was recently talking to a guy friend and he was asking me if he should text a girl he had hooked up with the weekend before and thought was cute. He had gotten her number from another friend, but was worried she would think it was “creepy” and “aggressive” if he texted her.
I cannot think of a form of communication less aggressive than a text — maybe he could poke her on Facebook? Invite her to connect on LinkedIn? The fact that we say things like “He opened my SnapChat but didn’t Snap me back — what does that mean?” or “Ugh, this boy liked my Instagram but won’t say ‘hi’ to me at the bar” is a problem.
If we want to talk to someone, why don’t we just do it? Why don’t we just pick up the phone and call or, better yet, simply walk up to someone and strike up a conversation?
Trust me, I’m as guilty of avoiding direct communication as the next person. I have definitely tried to keep the upper hand at times, seeming as if I didn’t care enough to immediately respond to a text or show someone that I was interested, thinking that this would give me some form of power or control.
But it doesn’t. All it does is leave you isolated, in control at the expense of any kind of meaningful connection. If we allow this devaluing of genuine feeling to continue, what will we be left with?
Sure, I get the hookup culture and know it can be fun and carefree, but at the end of the day all it leaves you with is a phone full of numbers to text but no one to actually talk to.
I think that within the right context, casually hooking up with someone can be a positive and enjoyable experience, and I believe we need to reconsider the current behavioral norms of our age group.
We need to stop being so afraid of emotions and our own vulnerability, relying on technology and social norms to protect us from ever getting hurt. Life is too short to pretend we don’t care — at the end of the day we all do, so let’s show it.
Mimi’s columns run biweekly Wednesday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org_