Man, you have to hand it to the Baby Boomers: they always get what they want. They wanted rock’n’roll, they got it; they wanted free love; they took it; they wanted money, the government, and the same music playing for 45 years, and they got all of that too.
When they turned batshit, bizarrely conservative and started dreaming of apocalypse (as Neil Howe and Bill Strauss said they would), they got their cohort George W. Bush to be president. The Boomers have been so powerful they erased an entire generation from ever being President: assuming John McCain isn’t elected, the Silents (born 1925-1941) will be the first generation to be skipped in American history.
But back to them being batshit: one of the most egregious things Boomers ever did was to spend the late ’60s trying every drug and sexual position imaginable, then growing up to be the most draconian, joy-prohibiting, litigious, rule-mongering administrators since Prohibition. If you want to see the embodiment of No Fun, look at your average college chancellor born in the early 1950s – they make Neidermeyer from “Animal House” look spontaneous.
And I’m not being metaphorical, like “they got to have sex, and we grew up under the specter of AIDS” kind of thing, I mean they actually made laws to curb fun as we knew it. Personally, it was legal for me to drink alcohol in college from May 26 to September 15, 1986. Then the law changed, and there was no grandfather clause – in other words, I could order woo-woos and Toasted Almonds all summer long, but by September, I was forbidden to do so for TWO YEARS.
This was the beginning of the end of Fun™ in college, even if we didn’t know it at the time. By 2003, as I complained earlier in this blog’s history, sororities were refusing to come to fraternities that had alcohol, which is a little like going to Egypt as long as you don’t look at the Pyramids.
Now the other shoe has dropped; as predicted, kids are barely having sex in college anymore. Tests done internally by universities and confirmed by Zogby show that, in the words of an average graduate, “Either I missed out or everyone else in college isn’t having sex at all.” Take the science in all this for what it’s worth, but it’s no surprise to me that the one place left in America where anything goes – college – has fallen victim to the I-don’t-really-feel-like-it school of life experience.
These kids are by-and-large unaffected by religious dogma, and all studies show that abstinence programs don’t have any psychological effect. They are predominantly middle-class with easy access to the Pill or any other procedure, and they are almost all between the ages of 18 and 23 and at the peak of their, shall we say… total hotness. What the hell is wrong?
I’m no social anthropologist, I only play one on these pages. Perhaps kids’ lives have become so virtual through the internet, gaming, Facebook, porn, or even what Allan Bloom called the “hymns to the joys of onanism” playing on Walkmen (today replaced by iPods) that there is no longer the pressing need to actually deal with the real, physical world. In fact, perhaps now, physical reality is by definition totally disappointing.
When we look at a site like Facebook (which I’m on – come be my friend!), you’ll see college women like my niece with 457 “friends,” and think “what an amazing social network!” But what if Facebook isn’t an enabler at all – what if its illusion of intimacy and interconnectivity purposely keeps people apart? If so, Baby Boomers, normally a technophobic, computer-mistrusting bunch, have got to be pleasantly surprised.
What else could be taking sexual intercourse out of college?
– Perhaps the drinking age and the latter-day Volstead Act currently enforced in college towns finally had its desired effect, and the social lubrication necessary to get two people together is now non-existent.
– Perhaps the drinking laws have made a “speakeasy” out of certain dorm rooms, leading students to take five shots of Jägermeister at the beginning of the evening, effectively erasing the slow buzz of a casual evening out with the girls, and replacing it with a season-ending barf at 8:30pm.
– Perhaps every fetish known to man has a site on the internet, leading guys to get their ya-yas out with, to paraphrase Woody Allen, “sex with somebody they love” – i.e., themselves. With such fantasies at their disposal, maybe most guys have masturbated themselves out of the market.
– The intense sexual politics of the early ’90s clearly put date rape and institutionalized misogyny in sharp relief, but perhaps it had another effect: guys think of the whole thing as entirely too much bother, and are increasingly opting for the effortlessly casual mingling of their male buddies.
– Likewise, perhaps women are so sick of the emotional retardation of their perpetually-confused, non-committal, vaguely-adolescent suitors that they have instead opted for a long-distance relationship with that guy who goes to Dartmouth they met over, yes, Facebook.
– Perhaps rampant anti-depressant use among college kids has resulted in a backwards tipping point for their collective libido.
– Or perhaps my own priapic, Lotharian past is poisoning my rationale, and today’s college students simply don’t place the same value on sexual and romantic experimentation that I did.
If that’s the case, then Baby Boomers, your job is practically done. Your students have nothing to defend themselves but flaccid swords made of purest irony. They say the bees are all dying; all that is left are the birds.