Addendum To “Gen Y’s Curious Cultural Paranoia” (Part II)

Posted on January 3, 2010

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Re: Original Article

PART II: Coffee With Ivy

“…because I sure as shit don’t,” I finish telling Ivy.

It’s Wednesday, two days before the new year, and I’m having a chai with my friend Ivy, catching up while she’s still in town for the holidays. This place, Black Dog Cafe, it’s got really good coffee, tea, etc. Imagine a museum of hipster culture and put a few coffee machines in there and you have Black Dog. Ivy is blonde, an attractive freshman proud of her persistence in warding off the F/15. She tells me how her roommates are the biggest bitches in the universe and how she has to leave town early just to ensure that they will not have replaced her with a new flatmate by the time the semester starts. We talk about things. She asks me about my mental condition and I’m happy to tell her about my improvements; she tells me about her recent ex-boyfriend who had severe bipolar disorder.

“I honestly just can’t deal with my boyfriend crying in my lap every time he gets a little jealous, sorry,” she says.

I tell her I feel for her. I tell her that while it’s not their fault that they have issues, they still remain their issues and thus their responsibility. He just isn’t there yet, but he will be. Optimism. Call it an ingroup bias thing if you must, but I like to think that people with mental illnesses recover.

I tell her about my blogging ventures, my books, my revelations on paranoia and generational anxieties. I tell her about my fears about humanity becoming too far removed from nature and subverted by machina.

She concurs, shows me her cell phone. It’s a Motorola-I-Can’t-Remember-What-Else . Atypical late-Ohs era touch-screen phone. They all look the same to me. She tells me on this phone there’s a feature called ‘My Days’. As in, your days, ladies. Tracks and monitors your period, ovulation, fertility, allows for record-keeping of when and how often you have sex: It basically does everything except menstruate for you. Women no longer have to think about any of this themselves because their phone can do it for them. Meanwhile, I thought it was cool when I started auto-balancing my checking account online. Venus & Mars.

I tell her you can check your pulse on some phones now, how a couple weeks ago when I took a little too much Adderall my friend used her phone to play doctor and I clocked in at 107 while sitting. Crazy.

I ask her if she can do that on her phone. She says no. But she has a metal detector on it.

“I totally feel you on the paranoia thing,” she says while we’re walking around Lake Ella. “It’s like, all the time, girls nowadays are all afraid to get raped or stalked. Everyone carries Mace.”

“And its like, with the Internet, we’re more connected than ever, and at the same time we’re totally isolated from one another, and everyone is scared shitless,” I add in. And she responds:

“Yeah. I told you about that guy who hacked into my AIM account right?”

“Oooooh yeah…”‘

“That fucker apparently found me on this website I go to, this BDSM fetish website; thought I was hot, hacked my AIM account. I logged on without noticing anything weird, then got a new IM that was all ‘Do you miss your buddy list’ and I was all ‘huh’ and yup – everything, everyone – gone. And then he goes on about how unless I want to have my Facebook and Twitter accounts hacked I would have to go into a webcam session with him and show him my tits.”

“…You couldn’t have just sent a photo?”

“Yeah, he said he knew if I did that I would just send him a pic of some random chick’s boobs. He demanded that I get in on webcam and strip for him personally.”

“What a fucking scumbag. What’d you do?”

“Got a new AIM name. Not worth it.”

“Were your Facebook and Twitter -“

“No. I changed the passwords.”

“Oh.”

I tell her that is funny because just the other night I logged onto my Facebook, received a message from some girl I’ve only met once that said: “First, how did you get my number if you got if from [name removed] I will hurt him. And two, you have some nerve to call me at 1 in the morning. Don’t you dare dial that number again unless I give you consent. Understood?” which was moderately uncalled for since at one that morning I had been fast asleep after a heavy night of debauchery. I told her this, told her that it was to be a case of mistaken identity, then she told me about how her ex and his girlfriend had been prank-calling her and apparently used me as the scapegoat when she asked who it was. Why me? Just because I was some unlucky guy whose name he must just so happened to have seen on her Facebook. Oh. Technology.

For all my (alleged and perceived) paranoia and fear of mass surveillance, I think it’s funny how I often get sucked in by our own, very different form of mass surveillance: the one we built and use ourselves. Last year, mid Oh-Nine, there was the Craigslist Killer incident. Before that, we had that incident where that German guy called this dude up who agreed to be cannibalized as some sort of weird sex game. But not just that, amateur webcams, real stuff videos (Look up “3Guys1Hammer” but for the love of what is good and just please do not watch it), reputation-ruining celebrity sex tapes and candid photos. Everywhere someone is watching someone watching someone (*Winks @ Chuck [But Like, Totally Not In A Gay Way]*). They’ve got TV shows where the majority of the footage is nothing but a cornucopia of the funniest, scariest, inspiring, and heartbreaking security camera footage produced far and wide. They’ve got radio broadcasts intercepted from online chats and whole books comprised solely from collected instant-messaging sessions. This little social network of surveillance we’ve built. Big Brother.

Ivy says to me that our generation is one laced with antidepressants and antipathy, and I say:

“Our nervous, antidepressant-laced cohorts in time…”

Now we’re at the mall where I picked her up from her eye appointment. We’re talking in my car. Both of us being carnal creatures, the topic shifted to sex. We’re talking about sex with friends and sex with girlfriends and boyfriends – How the game of love and romance has moved to a new battlefield over the past twenty or so years. She asks if I’ve ever thought of someone else during sex. I chuckle.

“This one time,” I tell her, “Last time I had sex with this one chick, my mind started to drift and I started thinking about this other girl, this Indonesian girl who is way too hot for me to ever have sex with, and the thought of that Indonesian girl is what kept me going with this other chick. So I was fucking this one girl, and fucking another in my mind, which is kinda cool, because when you think about it, that’s like doing two chicks at once.”

She tells me she does stuff like that all the time.

She comments again on the BDSM site she mentioned. This site – FatLife.Com, it’s the same place where she met her first online stalker. This random guy who would message her on IM the second she logged on, every time. His lonely and desperate and creepy pleas of “hey” – She tells me she got to the point where she’d just ignore him.

“Talk about paranoia among the youth,” she utters, and then adds, “You ever get to that point with certain people, where it’s like, you don’t necessarily dislike them, it’s just” –

“You have better things to do than to talk to them?”

“Yeah.”

“And not only that,” I say, adding to my mischievous smirk, “I bet that’s one of those people who not only do you have better things to do than talk to, you have better things to do than even tell them that.”

She nods. Don’t act like you don’t have someone like that in your life.

Now think about how many times you’ve been that person, been victim to the I’ll Call You Later complex.

She regales me with tales of her exploits at The Woodshed, this BDSM club in Orlando: she tells me how the movement has two kinds of people; the lifestyle ones who train you to be in their cult, and everyone else. There’s plenty of normal people, people like you and me who if you saw on the street you would ignore and find unremarkable, who also happen to like to be dominated sexually, rough and tough, or perhaps the direct inverse. Your teacher, your boss, your in-laws; for all you know, all of them could be hiding the handcuffs and gag balls behind closed doors.

At The Woodshed, she says, you meet some really weird people. Girls like Ivy go there expecting to have some consensual fun as a “dom” or a “sub”, end up meeting guys who prefer the relationship of “master + slave” or of “daddy + daughter” or, even weirder, those adults who have that weird baby diaper fetish.

“Needless to say, it really freaks me out whenever a guy is all, ‘Hey you wanna be my pain-slut, or needle-slut,’ or whatever.”

Even so, you don’t meet a lot of nineteen year old women who are into the same stuff that Ivy is. Or at least you don’t meet a lot willing to admit it. I think about how much dating and intrapersonal relationships has changed between generations. Growing up, I was raised by my mother to always respect women, always treat them like princesses, et cetera. A-Kay-A, all the stuff that doesn’t get you laid in the modern age. Apparently it worked better in the 70’s and 80’s though. Or so I’m told.

I think the difference in dating ideology between the 20th and 21st century is best reflected by the following dialogue:

BOOMER/LATE GEN X: “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

GEN Y: “Because if you milk a lot of cows, you can have a lot of milk.”

 

The Millennials, entrepreneurial as always. Maximizing our profits. The Millennials don’t want romance, contrary to what they tell you. Some do, maybe. A lot of them just want “Random Play” as Facebook calls it, or “N.S.A. (No Strings Attached) fun”, or the concept of the “Open Relationship,” whatever on earth that means.

I love you so much, but that doesn’t keep me from wanting to fuck others. You can too if you want. Hope that’s chill. It is? Cool. What’s playing on Adult Swim tonight?

On Monogamy:

BOOMER/LATE GEN X: “To each his own.”

GEN Y: “I have an own you can each all you want if you rub it the right way.”

“Can I ask you a question?” I ask Ivy without asking.

“Go for it,” she says.

“How do you feel about monogamy?”

“Oh, I’m not monogamous. I figured that out a long time ago.”

Is monogamy, then, perhaps just a social construct?

David Icke, this quack from Britain who actually brings up good points every now and then, once sneered into a camera while he was being interviewed with his partner and proclaimed “What the hell is marriage?” when prompted.

Good question. A social institution? A rite of passage, a ritual? Tradition for the sake of tradition? Or is it really the natural order of things? Go to Google and type in “monogamy” into the search bar, and right under it one of the first things to cross your eye will be “monogamy myth.” Smells like obsolescence.

Robert Wright’s 1995 analysis “The Moral Animal” suggests that serial monogamy (Where one has many short-term intimate sexual relationships over the course of a lifetime; contrast with full monogamy, e.g./i.e. traditional marriage) may one day be normative in society. It makes sense when one considers the rich history of nonmonogamous interpersonal relations documented across the epochs, considers the history of non-traditional monogamous relations. Consider the fact that the best U.S. presidents have all been the ones to have cheated on their wifes or had regular mistresses (which is a trick request as almost all of them have). Next time someone unsheaths the sword of the sanctity of marriage, consider the statistics surrounding our divorce rate.

Ivy says: “It’s not that I’m promiscuous… I just like sex. A lot. Is that a crime?”

I say there’s nothing wrong with that, and before I can add my two cents she goes: “I mean, I would be more open about it, it’s not that I’m ashamed, but like if you are the kind of person who enjoys a variety of partners and you’re open about it, they call you ‘promiscuous.’ I mean, like, promiscuity denotes sluttiness, because it implies you’ll fuck anyone. That’s not true. I have standards. A lot of people just fit those standards.”

A lot of those people fit into you.

“I can do the whole boyfriend thing,” she continues, “I like dating, but I get so bored with guys so fast, or they get bored with me. I dunno. I tend to just date whoever I consider to be the opposite of the guy I dated last. One day I’ll realize that that’s not the best strategy.”

“Yeah. You gotta find that fine median area, I guess,” I butt in.

I reply that monogamy works in many cases, such as that of my parents or her parents or other miraculously undivorced modern-age couples. I tell her:

“Sometimes monogamy works better for me… sometimes it doesn’t. Being involved with just one person allows me to narrow my focus to things more important than sex. Like… I like having a relationship, but it’s just not worth all the heartbreak and drama and conflict most of the time. I guess I’ll change my mind once I find that-” Someone.

“Yeah…” she infers. “Me too.” She resumes, “…and yeah, like I was saying, I would never touch anyone if they didn’t have a condom or if I didn’t know him well enough to know if he would lie about STDs. I’m not as stupid as my parents think. All the guys I talk to are clean, and I even keep in touch with most of them after we’ve stopped seeing each other. Or at least I try anyway.”

I don’t talk to any of my exes or past flings, really. Except Ivy. And a few others.

It’s getting late in the afternoon and I am expected elsewhere, I look at the clock, the setting sun’s glare stabs my eyes.

“So I guess you’ve had a crazy start to your college experience, huh?”

“You know it.”

She tells me how when she started school, she had slept with approximately ten guys.

End of Semester #1 and she’s at eighteen now. Eighteen at nineteen. And there’s nothing wrong with that, technically.

Interesting times we live in.

“Well,” I say to her, hugging her tight since I have no idea when we shall next meet, “as always, it was good seeing you, Ivy.”

“You too, Neil.”

“Take care of yourself.”

“You too.”

No.

 

POST-SCRIPT:  Forgot to add the little dialogue shared between my brother and me when I mentioned to him my thoughts on the death of romance in people in our demographic.

ME: It seems that in our day our dating culture is based on this foundation of isolation and competition and distance. It is often said that one should always “be assertive,” “be open,” and “be yourself” (whatever that means today), but if you actually try doing that, genuinely attempt any real engaging behavior towards others, you get thought of as being too pushy, sometimes as insincere, or perhaps with imaginative ulterior motives.

HIM: Yeah. Chicks hate it when a guy gets all emotional on them. Bitches think that shit’s creepy.

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