TINDER IN A BLIZZARD - A SYMPTOM OF A WHOLE LOT MORE
Emily, 25, who does marketing for a media company and asked that her last name be withheld for professional reasons, says she’s already seen pickup lines from guys looking for someone to “cuddle with.”
“Everyone’s going to flock to the dating apps this weekend,” she says. “I’ll definitely look and see who’s on there.”
If she found a good match, she’d venture out — if they’ll rendezvous near her East Village apartment.
“If they’re willing to be in the neighborhood or somewhere close to my apartment, definitely,” she says. “It’s all about convenience.”
This stayed with me. As a day or two passed I got more disturbed by it.
I starting thinking about Brave New World - how the sexual needs of the inhabitants are taken care of by the state. Sexual needs are compartmentalized. Everything in the world is an object and what matters is if that object exists or doesn’t exist for me. I need food, water, clothing, someone to have sex with, a family to live with, a job…. I need. So the world becomes a huge set of objects in service of us.
Developmentally, this is the way of the infant. And it is the best and only way for an infant to be. An infant doesn’t understand that they have been born into a large world. Or, more accurately, they mostly and consciously don’t understand this. They aren’t thinking conceptually yet. But they are in the world and part of it and doing what they need to do. The problem arises when, as adults, we don’t develop beyond seeing the world as a set of objects that influence us. When we can’t see that our actions have impacts that go beyond us. Or when we don’t care.
We get this way honestly. There is only minimal support for the growth of an embedded human being in our culture. What you achieve in life is pretty much the goal from the outset and career, family, and relationships are treated as things to which we are entitled and which, when they no longer satisfy, are replaced like a car or luggage set. (A fascinating exercise is to notice the language we use about our relationships - it tends to be very utilitarian) We get this way honestly. But it’s a fraction of what we could be.
We get this way and we are not in relationship with the world in a connected, grounded, give-and take kind of way. Rather we are in relationship with the world in a grasping, fight-or-flight, all-about-us kind of way.
Why does this matter?
An inter-connected mature relationship with the world gives us the opportunity to experience other people and nature and the world. This is creative and it sparks our creativity. The world and the act of living become creative and endlessly engaging. And we contribute to this. This makes for a rich and worthwhile life (as opposed to a flat one).
Another why: an interconnected relationship with the world means we see our actions differently. When you have a cat you warm them when they are cold, feed them when they are hungry - it’s not just about you. A stuffed animal, however, you can leave in an unheated room when you are on vacation and come back to it just fine. The stuffed animal is an object for your use. Your relationship with your cat is a relationship with a part of the world. The consequences of seeing the impact of our actions is never-ending - we change through our understanding of our importance and impact.
How does this happen?
We are put in towers early in our lives - important parts of us are locked away from the world. And the work of coming out of the tower is the daily stitching of the rope or the braid which will be our escape. Every day. Little by little. Good days and bad. With faith and with company of supportive others. Out of our towers. Into the world. We’re different.
I don’t want this to be too simplistic. It’s not like we’re connected or disconnected, mature or immature. We have areas and periods of both. Throughout our lives. But I believe that one of the great areas of growth possible for all of us is a re-integration into the world. I believe this is at the root of much mental illness and emotional suffering and emptiness: a lack of connection with our vitality. A vitality that exists as part of this world.
This isn’t a post about dating. I hope the blizzard wasn’t too devastating and I hope everyone kept warm and loved. But the consumerist mentality and the compartmentalization of physical intimacy are symptoms of our deeper problem. We need to develop from two years old to ten. And soon. I refrain from bringing politics in here. Oops just did. And I fear for many things, in particular the future of our earth. This is a post about our relational stance with each other - the way we are with each other - and what it shows about us. And why this is crucially important in every way.