Tag Archives: david brooks

Cell Phones, Texts and Lovers

This, folks, is an example of why David Brooks is one of the best and most insightful writers out there today.

Once upon a time — in what we might think of as the “Happy Days” era — courtship was governed by a set of guardrails. Potential partners generally met within the context of larger social institutions: neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and families. There were certain accepted social scripts. The purpose of these scripts — dating, going steady, delaying sex — was to guide young people on the path from short-term desire to long-term commitment.

David Brooks

Over the past few decades, these social scripts became obsolete. They didn’t fit the post-feminist era. So the search was on for more enlightened courtship rules. You would expect a dynamic society to come up with appropriate scripts. But technology has made this extremely difficult. Etiquette is all about obstacles and restraint. But technology, especially cellphone and texting technology, dissolves obstacles. Suitors now contact each other in an instantaneous, frictionless sphere separated from larger social institutions and commitments…

This does not mean that young people today are worse or shallower than young people in the past. It does mean they get less help. People once lived within a pattern of being, which educated the emotions, guided the temporary toward the permanent and linked everyday urges to higher things. The accumulated wisdom of the community steered couples as they tried to earn each other’s commitment.

Today there are fewer norms that guide in that way. Today’s technology seems to threaten the sort of recurring and stable reciprocity that is the building block of trust.

Take my advice and read the full article. It is well worth your time. Get it here.

The ME generation

A new story in the NY Times challenges the conventional wisdom that this is the most self-obsessed generation yet. Read it here.

Apparently, youthful narcissism is only temporary.

“It’s the development of a new life stage between adolescence and adulthood,” Mr. Arnett said. “It’s a temporary condition of being self-focused, not a permanent generational characteristic.”

David Brooks wrote an important article about this new phase of young adulthood a few months ago. He calls it “Odyssey.”

The greatest luxury of modern western society is this: We have the freedom to ask, “What do I want to do with my life?” Only a few generations ago, this was a largely irrelevant question. And it remains so for most of the world. We have the privilege of contemplating purpose, not merely survival. But so often that purpose eludes us.

If there is anything more selfish about this generation, it is the result of having so much, while nevertheless continuing to experience the unrelenting longing for purpose.