Earlier this summer I wrote an essay about college dating in which I modestly proposed that young women take back control of the courship process by demanding committed relationships. I ended up taking the story down not because of any backlash, but because further reading on the subject led me to realize that my quaint notion wasn’t just from another era, but from an entirely different parallel universe, having positively no relevance to the actual lives of young people today.
Now in its September issue, Vanity Fair takes on the topic of hookup culture among Ivy Leaguers, Wall Street interns, and Manhattan debutante types, and needless to say it’s a far cry from a Whit Stillman movie.
In the 6,500-word story, Vanity Fair introduces us to the fascinating concept of “datepocalypse”:
As the polar ice caps melt and the earth churns through the Sixth Extinction, another unprecedented phenomenon is taking place, in the realm of sex. Hookup culture, which has been percolating for about a hundred years, has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship. “We are in uncharted territory” when it comes to Tinder et al., says Justin Garcia, a research scientist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. “There have been two major transitions” in heterosexual mating “in the last four million years,” he says. “The first was around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, in the agricultural revolution, when we became less migratory and more settled,” leading to the establishment of marriage as a cultural contract. “And the second major transition is with the rise of the Internet.”
People used to meet their partners through proximity, through family and friends, but now Internet meeting is surpassing every other form. “It’s changing so much about the way we act both romantically and sexually,” Garcia says. “It is unprecedented from an evolutionary standpoint.”