Up for a bae or Netflix & chill?
Yes, you read that right! If you are part of what we call “Generation Me”, you probably grasped at least one of the abbreviations in the title. What is Generation Me, in any case? Well, it includes all people born between the late 80s and the early 00s. If, for some reason, you were not able to grasp the expressions in the title, then it’s safe to say you have simply not been affected by the Generation Me wave yet.
You see, Generation Me is all about Me, Me, and Me. We, 15-to-30-year-olds, are a generation that gives a huge deal of importance to ourselves. Other people are basically our helping hands, in other words, our “accessories”. Yes, it sounds harsh and insensitive but this is considered one of the qualities of our generation, one that distinguishes us from previous generations and that will continue to set us apart even now that younger generations start taking their place in society.
“How do we, as a generation, have the time to form proper stable relationships with others, if we are so occupied with ourselves the whole time?”
Going back to the expressions in the title, if you have no clue what they mean then I can give you a simple and brief explanation. The word “bae” is an abbreviation of “before anyone else” and it refers to a special someone, such as girlfriend or boyfriend. And “Netflix & chill” is a term you might use when you are having a movie date night with your special someone (bae). You might be wondering why I used these expressions. The reason is plain, simple, and relates to this mind-boggling question: How do we, as a generation, have the time to form proper stable relationships with others, if we are so occupied with ourselves the whole time?
To answer this question and “fix” this issue, we have invented things such as internet dating. While the use of dating websites is less common these days, various smartphone apps made for dating are very widely used. Let me take the best known one, “Tinder”, as a main example.
At first glance, Tinder provides a service to users looking for a “date” in their area. But what exactly does the word “date” mean in this case? This is exactly where the effect of Generation Me comes into play. In Tinder terms, “date” could indicate a short fling and casual partner switching, instead of being in a monogamous (single partner) relationship, known well to most other generations. Tinder offers a great deal of opportunities to date others but what we don’t realize is that it feeds the materialism our generation seems to fall for everyday.
“Tinder offers a great deal of opportunities to date others but what we don’t realize is that it feeds the materialism our generation seems to fall for everyday.”
Let me expand on the previous sentence: Tinder shows its users a stack of other Tinder profiles, who either swipe “Like” or “Nope” for each profile. As the app only gives a first impression based on the physical appearance and age of a person, one cannot help but feel as if shopping for clothes. So in a sense, Tinder is dehumanizing people around us, seeing them as accessories, and using them to give us a sense of accomplishment, or pleasure if you will. We are basing our judgments on people’s looks rather than on what they have to offer overall. Yes, that is the hard truth about these dating apps. In line with this, many users review the app as the “fast food of sex” (Tinder, 2013). Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who have found people to actually date after meeting on Tinder, but considering that the app is mostly known for supporting the hookup culture around us, it is changing the attitude everyone has towards “dating” and relationships.
This leads me back to the question of whether a generation such as ours is able to “date”. Does being part of a “hookup culture” mean that our idea of dating is shifting to open relationships, in which multiple partners are involved? There are still plenty of people in monogamous relationships but it also seems that the Generation Me wave is changing the game-play of dating, even if slowly and gradually. So to wrap it up, let me ask you one final question: Is this shifting effect of “Generation Me” a downward spiral, or does it make people more open to new experiences and flexible self-growth? Only time will tell…
“There are still plenty of people in monogamous relationships but it also seems that the Generation Me wave is changing the game-play of dating, even if slowly and gradually.”
Tinder. (2013, September 19). Retrieved June 25, 2016, from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Tinder
This blog post is an adaptation of an article that appeared in Diemensies, a magazine by and for students of the Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, in 2016.