In an admirable piece of performance art, the Observer today has a one-page story by party reporter Nate Freeman about the trend of, wait for it, young people not wanting to have sex anymore. Because of the Internet. This is genius! Discussion fodder for people who think the Observer knows what young people are up to? Check! Linkbait for bloggers who love to make fun of trumped-up trend stories? Check! Internet? Check! Sex? Check! (Sort of.) They've really hit on a masterful formula here, we have to hand it to them. But let's see if we can put this trend story to the ultimate test: Can you replace the trend in this piece with one that is actually impossible? For example, can you switch out the words "not having sex" and stick in "not eating" throughout and have it still make as much sense?
And if so, have they hit upon the ultimate, end-all trend story formula? Let's see!
Let's start with Freeman's intro, where he describes a typical hipsterish party that's ... missing something:
Until 10 in the morning, a dozen attractive men and women — day laborers in film, public relations, media, fashion — drank Peroni, smoked cigarettes and indulged in cocaine as someone with an iPhone 4 blasted songs through the speakers. A girl sitting next to a Harvard M.B.A. student looked through a coffee table book of Todd Selby's photography. There was a conversation going on about Twitter — most of those present kept a vigorously updated account.
Then came the sun — the traditional cue that one should
choose a member of the opposite sexBE HUNGRY and set off for his or her apartmentA DINER, to sleep togetherEAT. Instead attendees departed aloneWENT STRAIGHT HOME.
Hmmm. Not eating after a night spent doing coke? As opposed to not wanting to have sex? So far our version makes more sense ...
Young New Yorkers no longer care about
having sexEATING. It's not the endgame, nor even the animating force of social interaction. Men and women still get dressed up, but not for the purpose of taking off their clothes in another's companyGOING TO RESTAURANTS. What used to signify desire or the desire to be desiredHUNGER now boils down to narcissism. How will I look on Patrick McMullan tomorrow? Or just on Facebook? The Observer spent a few weeks at parties and gatherings fraught with abstinenceHUNGER but slack of any sexual tensionCRAB CAKES, and we heard a repeated sentiment, often delivered with uncharacteristic fervor: "We are a self-obsessed generation."
There are aggravating factors. Cocaine is again going around, and everyone would rather stay up doing it than
going to bedEAT. Cab rides from downtown back to Bushwick with a potential paramourWHERE PIZZA PLACES ARE CLOSED ruin the mood and are best avoided. But the most prominent cause for the shift is the way the codes of online interaction has been transferred to the mores of New York socializing.
The platonic cliques spend all day tweeting at each other, forming exclusive @-reply feeds that appear only to them, and at night flock to the same bars, clubs and after-parties. It's harder to go home
with someoneAND EAT knowing that they'll be seeing your avatarFAT FACE the next morning and every morning after that.
"New York is too dense; you're running into people all the time, everyone knows everyone," said a male consultant in his mid-20s. "
SexEATING just doesn't make sense — it's dirtyFATTENING."
Oh, and here we go:
It was around 2 a.m., and The Observer was sitting with the consultant at a booth, presumably taken from a diner, that has abetted the consumption of thousands of cigarettes. It now rests by the panoramic windows in his Delancey Street apartment, which doubles as his office. Noise is insulated from neighbors, and there is ample crowd space. On the wall hangs a glass marlin named Marlin Brando. It's a swell place to stay up all night drinking, doing drugs and not
finding other people to sleep withEATING.
For a while, the apartment has welcomed last-call castoffs who arrive around 4 or 5 a.m. — a mix of nightlife promoters, musicians, aspiring actresses, friends connected through college, television personalities, Google employees, gossip reporters, skate kids and writers for The New York Times. And, in the past, certain attendees would see
former sexual partnersFOOD.
"It's gross to be, like, at a party and there's
five people you've had sex withA TRAY OF PIGS IN A BLANKET, and you don't really even have a relationship with them to the point that you'd even say hiFEEL GUILTY ABOUT EATING THEM," the consultant said. "I've noticed that happen at parties here. It's just awkward."
But such encounters have become less likely, he added.
"It's come to a point where people don't necessarily want to do that anymore."
No, they don't.
SexGETTING FAT is antithetical to the way they socialize, disruptive to the larger plan, a gateway to chaos in a digitally ordered world.
By George, I think they've done it!!
"My hours are so fucking absurd," an office production assistant on the film told The Observer. "I work a minimum 12 hours a day and up to 14 or 16, and you don't have time to bring anyone into the equation. If
having sex with someoneEATING won't fit in your schedule, it's just not gonna happen."
The same cadre from that previous Saturday morning party reconvened a few days later for comped gin cocktails at a Lower East Side speakeasy. The good-looking men and women sat with plenty of space between them.
"Twenty-somethings are wary of
sexEATING," said one, a young man who works at a hedge fund. "It's not 1998."
Dingdingdingdingdingding!! They've done it, folks. Congratulations, Observer, you never have to write another trend piece again.