17 Mar

Social Media Isn’t Foreplay

Try to simply purchase a cup of coffee without running into some adolescent or young adult who has his or her head buried in their smartphone. I challenge you.

Interestingly enough, Nate Freeman, a journalist for The New York Observer, concludes that modern communication tools and social networks are not facilitating sexual, or even physical relationships. Instead of utilizing these tools as means to connect offline, Generation Y is simply socializing in the real-world to build their online ego.

“Oh, I met John at the launch party for an indie film. Now he is following me on Twitter, a Friend on Facebook, a connection on LinkedIn, a buddy on Foursquare…” and so forth.

Freeman’s controversial piece, “Sexless and the City: Web Warps Libidos of Coked-Up Careerists,” begins by describing a young professionals night out in New York City. A 22-year-old hosting a party used to mean ending the night with your hand slipping into a new friend’s hand and retiring to one of your apartments, to sleep together. Now, not so much:

YOUNG NEW YORKERS no longer care about having sex. It’s not the endgame, nor even the animating force of social interaction. Men and women still get dressed up, but not for the purpose of taking off their clothes in another’s company. What used to signify desire or the desire to be desired now boils down to narcissism. How will I look on Patrick McMullan tomorrow? Or just on Facebook? The Observer spent a few weeks at parties and gatherings fraught with abstinence but slack of any sexual tension, and we heard a repeated sentiment, often delivered with uncharacteristic fervor: “We are a self-obsessed generation.”

One of the most interesting points made by Freeman is the influence a work schedule has on social lives. One interviewee blamed their demanding work schedule for directly causing his lack of a sex life. “I work a minimum 12 hours a day and up to 14 or 16, and you don’t have time to bring anyone into the equation. If having sex with someone won’t fit in your schedule, it’s just not gonna happen.”

So, while 1 in 5 marriages now originate from online dating, social media and digital technologies are also facilitating an unnecessary amount of distance between friends, family and lovers. Furthermore, a recent study suggests that one in five divorces now involve Facebook!

However, many applications have been brought to market to, if I may, lower the barriers to sex. A newly released mobile app, Check, promotes its product to the average socialite as a way to make a new friend. After checking-into a physical location, users are provided information on the venue: number of attendees, their sex, their marital status, etc. Furthermore, the application will allow you to “browse other users at your current location or within a specified radius. Like what you see? Start a conversation and Check them.”

Are mobile applications necessary to act as a social icebreaker? Have we come to rely on technology to such an extent that we cannot make an introduction, buy a drink or even say hi without poking our desired mate over the Internet first?

What is your take? Does social media enhance your offline relationships or hinder personal connections?