Feeds are full of the most unhinged takes, men and women are further apart in values and worldview than ever before - and the divide feels uncrossable
I'm definitely not a zoomer (50 next year), so don't have that perspective, except watching my teenage daughters navigate the new world. The past few decades did have a, "men are bad/masculinity is bad" theme that was tiresome, and effective at building anger among us men. I tend to think that this message pushed men towards porn and away from women (although it didn't take much pushing). My daughters (16 and 17) only got phones this year, and are still quite limited in the online sphere (no dating apps), but don't seem to have a problem meeting and socializing with boys. Maybe the more online a person is, the worse the dating arena is?
As a feminist activist from the 60s, I feel this is a giant problem. I don't think it's relegated to Gen Z. I see it in my generation, the ninth decade. Not sure how this developed, but can't be put in one or the other side. No white hats. I was struck by Freya's thinking that the divisiveness we are experiencing in general has pulled relationships between the sexes into it. Like general distrust based in our politics is a black hole pulling everything into it.
Excellent piece but a shame that it is necessary for it to be written. I am so glad that I am not coming of age in the present day. And, it is not just relationship misconceptions but the view of work and personal responsibility (agency). As Jonathan Haidt pointed out in a recent piece, there is a trendline decline in agency among Gen Z. This makes it extremely difficult to navigate a world, and especially workplace, that requires agency to function and high levels of it to be successful. I also suspect that there is a correlation between the decline in agency in Gen Z and their majority opposition to capitalism. Functioning and success in a capitalistic world requires agency.
That is a staggering statistic. 10+ hrs of screen time/day! But the problem of relationship anomie goes back before the Internet. Coincidentally, I've had this song in my head for about a week now. The ineffable Burton Cummings:
Living without boundaries is incomparably hard. Decades ago everyone wanted to get married in their 20s and start a family. Prospects, time, and process were limited. Yet those boundaries made life simple in comparison. Now we seek no less than self-actualization. Without even a smidge of social or religious constraints to guide us. So don't confuse a symptom as the cause. All this blah blah blah on social media is an outgrowth of the problem, not the cause of it. The solution? In short, to get back to some core social and spiritual principles that can guide us, and give meaning to our lives. Those do exist, even on social media, but right now are seeming lost in the cacophony.
40 years of "white man bad," and this is what you get. Quit complaining. You dropped it, you drown it.