Mine may not be the best voice to represent the millennial generation. I prefer calls over texts, I don’t use Snapchat, I don’t take selfies and I still own a flip phone. I literally own more tape players than touchscreens, and more vinyl than video games.

But that doesn’t mean I’m completely out of touch with my peers. Despite my inclinations as a Luddite, I do my best to keep up with emerging technologies to such a degree as suits my interests. I’m a writer, performance artist, musician, poet, and actor… so the various roles I live in are very much grounded in communication. And if there is one singularly remarkable criticism I have for my generation, it is how quickly we have given up on communicating with one another; especially when it comes to relationships.

You hear a lot of talk about hook-up culture these days. Apps like Tinder have streamlined the dating process into superficially narcissistic exercises of ritualistic sexual encounter. I call it ritualistic, because it seems as though many who use Tinder and other dating technologies do so strictly in the interest of pursuing a habit, or to put it more severely, a behavioral addiction.

Instead of seeking out that indefinable thing we call a human connection, we constantly swipe left or right without even really processing that the picture we’re swiping is symbolic of a real person with real feelings and thoughts. We have forgotten that inside the minds of people there exists the potential for a sort of buried treasure, and that you never know what that treasure may yield until you dig it up.

FeetBed

Hook-up culture is like swinging devolved: instead of pursuing sex as a means to greater spiritual, philosophical, humanitarian or physical discovery, our generation uses sexual conquest to satisfy a fleeting desire for approval and validation. Young men post “dick pics” in order to have their phallic insecurity conquered, while women spend hours trying to capture images of their own face in just the right light and at just the right angle so that someone will validate their existence by “swiping right.” We have become icons of ourselves, and as such the dating landscape has become dismally two-dimensional.


Now, I know this is getting depressing, so let me play devil’s advocate. I’ve already written about young people who are approaching relationships with communication as the first priority, and it is pretty hard to ignore that open relationships are probably more common than ever before. We seem to talk more openly about sexuality and gender issues, and as a result love has become more inclusive across the board. We can’t overlook these accomplishments, and in fact, we should be allowed to celebrate them without letting the shadow of cynicism piss on our parade.

But we also have to recognize that there is a gross amount of misinformation out there. We have to acknowledge that, for all the attention these accomplishments deserve, we need to be active in our opposition to content which pervasively celebrates archaic (and often abusive) content around sex and relationships.

Case in point: 50 Shades of Grey.
50shades

While the titular novel and film have brought kink and BDSM culture into the forefront of societal dialogue, the inherently positive, nurturing qualities of this culture were almost nowhere to be found in the best-selling book or film adaptation. In fact, many have cited that the book seems to celebrate casual misogyny, stalking, and even sexual assault.

It is important that we take a moment here to look at what kink and BDSM culture is really about. When we think of dominance and submission, we tend to think about leather, sex toys, paddles and ball gags. Yes, those are elements of the culture, but they are by no means the definition of it. I believe that engaging in BDSM requires the most extreme adherence to the principals of consent and communication. No person should ever be expected to be sexually vulnerable to another without knowing that they are safe and that their hard limits will be respected.

This is not the message conveyed by 50 Shades of Grey. The sexual scenes in that book aren’t pre-empted by respectful, considerate conversation between all parties involved. The primary male figure is a wealthy symbol of patriarchy exerting his dominance over an innocent female figure, often without her invitation or explicit consent. It is a travesty that some individuals will use this material as a basis for their understanding of kink culture.


This is representative of the great problem that the millennial generation faces as it tries to evolve culturally. We are too quick to be distracted by sexy imagery and flashy technology… everything moves so fast that we no longer have the patience to talk to one another or to deconstruct and look at the content we are provided with. We’re so busy drooling while we watch the sexy, bearded man dominate the petite young woman, that we never stop to consider whether or not he asked for permission. We’re so engaged in arguing about “what feminism really means,” that we can’t listen and absorb the very real concerns of the opposite side.

I tried Tinder for a little while, back when I had a smart phone. I was really bad at it. I kept trying to have conversations with people, trying to learn more about them to gauge if I wanted to spend time with them. I’d ask questions, not trying to pry but trying to respectfully gain a better understanding of what made them tick. But it seemed like the second the conversation went beyond, “Trynna smash?” the person on the other side would just disappear.

And don’t even get me started on “ghosting” and how that particular term is indicative of a generation’s inability to embrace brave, albeit difficult, communication. Ghosting is a coward’s technique of escaping a relationship… a method of departure utilized by those who lack the strength to utter the words, “I’m not interested. Sorry and good luck out there.”

Most “dating” websites/apps that I’ve seen seem to cater to a clientele that is afraid of vulnerability. These technologies allow you to put the best aspects of yourself on display, whether there is truth in that display or not. Someone should start a dating app where the only things you put in your profile are the absolute worst things about you. It could be called “Tender” because you’d be putting the most vulnerable things about yourself out there for people to either accept, or acknowledge and move on.

Intimacy

Since all of this is orbiting around the community we have built here on Quiver, it seems appropriate to point out the difference between “Big Q” and everything I’ve talked about so far. And at the end of the day, it is all about intention.

Near as I can tell, the good folks at Quiver have their hearts in all the right places. I think the tagline, “A Modern Approach to Open,” is very telling. It’s about an open mind as much as it is about an open relationship, if not more. In this community you get the best of both worlds. There is streamlined access to sexy people near and far, ongoing discussions about sex-positive culture and education, and as much or as little anonymity as you desire. Personally, getting on this site is what pushed me to openly own my sexuality with complete transparency. I’ve always found the line between secrecy and privacy to be a blurry one, so I’ve done away with the line altogether.


I want to try and wrap this up, so to my fellow members of the millennial generation, I say this: We have such a beautiful opportunity that is literally at our fingertips. Streamlined communication doesn’t mean we don’t have to work as hard: it means we should be striving to work harder.

Communication is faster than ever before, which means you can do the same amount of learning in half the time! So the next time you’re looking for someone to get off with, don’t do it because they have a nice cock or because they tell you you’re pretty. Do it because they say or do at least one thing that stirs a sincere emotional reaction inside of you. Fuck somebody, not because you want to stop thinking about the problems in the world for a few moments, but because there is something intangible about that person that you just have to be connected to somehow.

Whether you are in a monogamous relationship, an open relationship, or no relationship at all, you can make sure that before you swap fluids with someone, you learn something from them. As the millennial generation, we have embraced our sexuality without embracing all that which contributes to it, and it is time we start making up the difference. Why? Because knowledge is power, and a powerful generation can do amazing things.

And if that’s not reason enough, know that a deeper understanding of your sexual and romantic partner(s) is guaranteed to make you cum better.

Fact.

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