The New York Times is worried that you’re not dating like you used to, and they’re not going to rest until they can figure out who to blame. The Internet? Texting? The “mancession” (which actually doesn’t exist)? Alcohol? College?
Yes to all of the above, as it turns out. You, Young Urban Single, are never going to find love; the best you can possibly hope for is a “hangout” that exists “one step below a date” and “one step above a high five.” Dinner and a movie have been replaced by “instant messages,” because millennials, as you well know, no longer require food to survive; instead they extract nutrients from the various fonts enabled in Gchat.
“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.”
“I thought it was a date. I could have sworn he said he was going to take me out, but then we just ended up going to a concert and spending time together in public. Men are impossible to read.”
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? What words would you use?’ ” Ms. Freitas said.
What order would you put your words in? Would you use English, or something better? Would you use your mouth to say them? Where would you put your hands during this exchange? What if they start sliding in a different direction while you’re trying to talk to them and you have to give chase? Also, how do you know if someone is talking to you?
Online dating services, which have gained mainstream acceptance, reinforce the hyper-casual approach by greatly expanding the number of potential dates. Faced with a never-ending stream of singles to choose from, many feel a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out), so they opt for a speed-dating approach — cycle through lots of suitors quickly.
“Tony? No, we broke up.”
“You did? When? Why?”
“I told you this. Last week he had a really bad case of FOMO and -”
“FOMO? What does that mean?”
“There’s no time to explain, you fool! Saying the full phrase wastes precious energy, while even now the enemy gains! Keep running!”
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.
Can you imagine? In some parts of the country the situation has become so dire that perfectly normal women are reduced to dating waiters. Waiters! They touch food all day. For a living.
Please enjoy this brave new world where all children are man-children, where all calls are booty calls, where marriage and dinner no longer exist but the word “mancession” still does.
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]