My Twitter followers saw me link an article Tuesday morning I described as the most accurate article I’ve ever read about today’s social media hookup culture. It’s a day later, and I stand my ground.
Don’t misinterpret my words: I’m not saying the activities described in this article are what every kid is doing “on Facebook” (Omegle? Probably so), but I would say that I observe the ripple effect from this subculture rocking mainstream youth culture in numerous ways. In other words, this article isn’t describing what every 15-year-old girl is doing on the internet, but it’s the same virtual superhighway our kids are navigating every day, and if our kids aren’t experiencing this themselves, then they are about 1 degree of separation from someone who is.
Take a few minutes and read this lengthy Vanity Fair article I’m referring to… it’s scary and even explicit at parts, but it is well worth your time. Here’s just a snippet, and then a few comments from me. I welcome your comments as well:
She wanted it to be like the scene in the Lana Del Rey video for “Blue Jeans”—“hot and slow and epic.” The scene where strangers meet and fall into an easy intimacy, making love in a pool—“and they look so hot and it’s just, like, totally epic.” A boy at her school—she didn’t want to talk about him now; he’d broken her heart; but “like, whatever.” She’d “deleted him” from her phone. “I was stalking him too much, seeing him doing fun things on Instagram, and it hurt.”
They’d been instant-messaging on Facebook, and one night he told her he loved her. And then “I found out he was talking to, like, four other girls.” And now she wanted to do something to get over it, maybe to get back at him. “I mean, I should have known. All men are basically whores.” When he didn’t turn out to be her “true love”—“like Bella and Edward, or Bella and Jacob, you know?”—she decided she had to “lose it to someone,” so why not with someone she would never have to see again? And yet, she hoped it would somehow be like the Lana Del Rey song. “I will love you till the end of time,” it goes.
The guy she was supposed to meet that day—the guy from Tinder, the dating app kids were using to hook up—“I know, like, five guys who’ve done it; girls use it too, but they pretend like they don’t”—he was cute and had tattoos on his arms. He looked “James Franco–ish,” but younger. On Tinder you could meet people in your age group. She was 16; he was 17.
Alone in her room, the night before, reading her friends’ Twitter feeds and watching YouTube videos (Selena Gomez and “baby animals being cute”), she’d started feeling lonely, restless, and bored. “Sometimes I just want to talk to a guy so bad.” So she downloaded the app and started swiping through the pictures of boys in her area. She “hearted” his picture, and within a few minutes he had hearted hers, and then they were instantly texting.
“Ur hot,” he wrote. “U wanna meet?”
They arranged to rendezvous at a shopping mall in Los Angeles not far from the neighborhood where they lived….
- Wow, I think that is the longest article I’ve actually read in its entirety.
- This Vanity Fair article reminds me a little bit of this poignant article about social media and selfies written by a teenager girl this summer.
- We need to realize that this research isn’t a representation of all kids, but at the same time, not minimize the trickledown of many of these influences to social networking as a whole (the pressure to be sexy, the frequency of cyberbulling, the availability of porn and hookup sites…)
- I sent this to my 18-year-old daughter at her Christian college and she responded, “This article makes it seem like all kids are like this.” I shared my thoughts from the previous bullet and also asked her, “Are you on Tinder or Omegle?” She isn’t. (Whew! I’m glad.)
- This article echoes the cry we’ve heard from young women (especially) and men for years: “Please notice me!”
- As much as I’d like to think this article is regional (in L.A.), I’m finding some intriguing research about young people in rural areas frequenting porn more often than other areas. L.A. might offer greater availability for Project X -like parties, but in my travel (and I speak to kids all over) I find kids around the country navigating the same websites, listening to the same music and watching the same programming. I’m amazed how similar kids are in CA, CO and CT.
Thoughts as you read this article?