Intimacy, Personal Connection and Interpersonal Communication in Today’s Culture
In today’s culture we see too often that online interactions and casual intercourse are valued far above intimacy and personal connection. Intimacy in 2018 is hard to find, it seems almost extinct. There are many factors that have lead to this reality, but if we don’t fight back for intimacy and love now I fear that the future will be a bleak and lonely experience. It’s up to feminists and feminism to lead this love revolution ?it’s time to fight for our future.
Oxford English Dictionary defines intimacy as “the quality or condition of being intimate, furthermore, the state of being personally intimate; familiar intercourse; close familiarity, and euphemistically for sexual intercourse” (OED, 2018). It is my understanding, based on personal experience and the readings/videos covered in module 3, that young people today think of intimacy only as physical attraction and they deny the necessity for emotional intimacy. People only want sex. “Relationships are being treated like any other product – online we can browse and compare prospective sexual partners.” (Jefferies, pg 4, 2015); apps like bumble, tinder, and eharmony (etc.) make it too easy to entertain the idea of meeting someone and being physical while not requiring you to actually commit to just one person.
You can text or message anyone and everyone for hours to weeks and never meet face-to-face. These “dating” apps are advertised as being the newest and ‘best’ way to meet people in order to form connections, but the truth is they just perpetuate hookup culture by providing options based almost exclusively on appearance and encouraging one-time meet ups for ‘coffee’ ?and by ‘coffee’ I mean casual sex, “…life can also affect online life in more subtle ways, especially when potential mates can disappear forever with the swipe of a thumb.” (Bahrampour, pg 4, 2016). Bahrampour quotes Harvard’s Professor, Norman Spack saying, “People are not spending enough time alone just together. There’s another gorilla in the room: It’s whatever is turned on electronically.” (Bahrampour (Spack), pg 4, 2016) this is especially frustrating to me. I am a person who thrives on human interaction, I love to talk to people and get to know who they are and want to be, but NOBODY seems to want that anymore. People dodge questions that delve deeper than surface level and then stop communication with you all together because of their fear of connection.
It has been shown that millennials and Generation Z have been abstaining from having as much sex as generations prior, “the vast majority of young adults are still having sex, but an increasing number of them appear to be standing of the sidelines.” (Bahrampour, pg 2, 2016). The generation of young adults today are glued to the internet, our phones are in hand almost 24/7, and this has done terrible things to our interpersonal communication skills. “…many millenials are relatively unfamiliar with the kind of down time it takes to really get to know a partner.” (Bahrampour, pg 4, 2016) this is just one of the downsides to all of our forms of electronic communication, another example is we tend to be baffled by body language ?people don’t fully comprehend it because we rarely have to use it. It is too easy to be confident behind a screen and rather than try to challenge ourselves to get out there and make actual connections we get on our phone and message someone miles away, because it takes no real effort.
The ease of ‘connection’ via the internet in combination with society’s patriarchal sexist beliefs has lead to a decreased desire for relationships among men. Mark Stefanishyn says, “there’s a ton of women who have a desire for a relationship, and a smaller number of men who want the same.” (Suanusi (Stefanishyn), pg 4, 2017). I mostly believe this is due to society’s double standard between men and women, “Romantic love as most people understand it in patriarchal culture makes one unaware, renders one powerless and out of control.” (hooks, pg 101, 2015). The standards at which we hold women, in regards to appearance and actions/decision, are much more stern and intense than those for men. These standards have led men to take advantage of the lack of scrutiny on their actions and do whatever the fuck they want [basically whenever they feel], while women feel the need to be in a committed relationship to avoid that judgement. Today the idea of developing emotions for another person has been coined as “catching feelings” it’s seen as a bad, sometimes even terrifying, phenomenon. “Some young people speak disparagingly of the messy emotional state love and lust can engender” (Bahrampour, pg 5, 2016), let’s be real though love and lust wouldn’t be as messy if we took the time to learn to love each other as people instead of jumping into bed as soon as possible. While feelings can be difficult to deal with, emotional intimacy and human connection is crucial to our mental states.
Moving forward we must learn to get passed our fears and reservations about emotions, intimacy, and interpersonal communication. Let’s, together, put down our phones and take back the opportunity for TRUE human connection. Love cannot grow from messages on a screen or from a one night stand, love cannot grow from control or domination, bell hooks says,
“When we accept that true love is rooted in recognition and acceptance, that love combines acknowledgment, care, responsibility, commitment, and knowledge, we understand there can be no love without justice. With that awareness comes the understanding that love has the power to transform us, giving us the strength to oppose domination.” (hooks, pg 104, 2015).
As a society, as a culture, we must redefine how we see intimacy and relationships. We must take a step back from electronic communication and learn to talk to one another again. We need to stop fearing the “what if’s” and “could be’s” and take a chance on someone, ask the important questions. Dig deeper and make connections beyond the surface. If we don’t take strides in the direction of positive feelings and connotations of intimacy now our abilities to make these interpersonal connections will eventually disappear, and the world will seem lonelier than ever before. I believe that the only option we have left is feminism, the feminist belief is the most inclusive of all peoples, hooks was correct in saying, “To choose feminist politics, then, is a choice to love.” (hooks, pg 104, 2015) ?I choose to love, I choose to challenge my fears, and I choose to fight for our future; I can only encourage others to do the same.
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