Inside Hookup Culture

Inside Hookup Culture

Are We Having Fun Yet?

By Alexandra Solomon

January/February 2016

The preparations began days in advance. Jess, a college senior, had been asked out on a first date by a 24-year-old friend of a friend. Her tribe was buzzing with excitement. “Everyone was my number-one fan,” Jess says, tucking her long brown hair behind her ear. “It’s super unusual for someone to go out on a real first date, so everyone wanted a piece of the action. My girls were Facebook-stalking him and commenting on his looks. Everyone wanted to Uber to the city with me and hang out at the bar across the street from where I was supposed to meet him.”

As my former student shares the story of her first first date, I’m struck by how the whole concept of dating is brand new to Jess and her friends, though sexual experiences are not. On college campuses across the country, “hooking up” has all but replaced traditional, old-school dating rituals, and I can’t help feeling uneasy that for many young adults, getting naked with someone you barely know is less newsworthy than meeting up for a drink and a conversation. And while a part of Jess finds the communal attention intrusive, another part finds it quite natural. After all, this is exactly how she’s been living since she was in her early teens. “My generation is really public,” she explains. “We put it all on Facebook and Instagram. It’s how we live. I think that’s why there was some comfort in having it be a group thing.”

So despite Jess’s nagging sense that it ought to be her first date, not…

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