We’ve got 99 problems, but love ain’t one

    It’s a great story: Boy meets girl, boy likes girl. Boy and girl get together, boy and girl fall in love. From then on, they live happily ever after, in the highest state of human communication, together in a monagamous, emotionally nurturing, sexually satisfying relationship. A great story? It seems like a load of crap.

    Love — the foundation of that cheesy narrative, the emotional height we’re all supposed to be pursuing — is dead. College students used to search for their soulmate, a perfect companion to be by their side forever, or at least someone cute enough to bang for the next 40 years who doesn’t fart in bed or talk with food in their mouth. But our generation’s take on love is much simpler, far less idealistic and a heck of a lot easier. Jay-Z nailed it right on the mark when he rapped, “I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one.”

    In other words, fuck relationships. We’ve got lots of other shit to deal with, so why bother committing to someone when just hooking up is way easier? Why settle for a salad when we can just skip to dessert?

    It seems like a reasonable perspective to a generation raised on sexually promiscuous pop culture. Rock stars are infamous for their wild groupie love sessions, where the more, and the more often, the merrier. Urban music’s rise to the mainstream has taken the hook-up ethic to a new level with its language: We’re all just pimps and hos, making booty-calls and chasing that milkshake in the club. Sexual wanderlust is a commandment on the sets of popular reality TV shows, where alcohol-drenched contestants scramble for random play, then ditch the sweetie back home for their newfound companion, promiscuity.

    After digesting this stuff all through our formative years, we’ve come to believe (or reflect) it, to a point where the ambivalence toward traditional relationships can be seen quite noticeably in our behavior.

    How many UCSD students — outside of Valentine’s Day — go out on dates in the old-fashioned sense? How many UCSD students haved dated someone for more than six months? A year? Many probably have, but those relationships are still far from the focus of campus social life.

    Maybe love is just another one of those things that goes obsolete as the social conditions that it serves change. Maybe the disenchantment of a generation that saw half of its parents’ marriages end in divorce is being manifested in skepticism toward the very idea of traditional relationships. Maybe long-term, monogamous relationships — which after all, are probably just an emotional device for the successful creation, care and education of children — just aren’t necessary anymore.

    Maybe, but if so, why are all of us without someone to take out to dinner tonight going to go a little farther to distract ourselves? Why won’t this silly holiday just fade into the past, like arranged marriages and chastity belts? Valentine’s Day sometimes seems like just another excuse to eat some chocolate and buy a Hallmark card; its knee-jerk consumerism is getting almost beyond annoying. But whether we like it, or want it, or not, there seems to be something about love that just won’t let it go away — both in our culture and in ourselves.

    Even Jay-Z loves his girlfriend.

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