David Brooks is sort of the Andy Rooney of the New York Times, always baffled by modern ways of life and love, and wishing we could return to the good old days, maybe even in Lake Woebegone, where the men don’t have iPhones, the women don’t have Facebook, and all of the relationships are hookup-free until marriage. Brooks’ latest column is about how cell phones and texting have killed romance.
Brooks’ column is littered with proof of how he just. doesn’t. get. it. (He notes that the daters he quotes make up nicknames for their partners, not catching that “Stage Five Clinger” is a “Wedding Crashers” reference. He also seems to think Bruce Springsteen is an appropriate cultural reference.) I sort of imagine that Brooks does his phoning on a Jitterbug. He seems to almost want to return to the days of arranged marriages:
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.
Now we have a dating free market, and free market conservative though he is, Brooks DOES NOT WANT!!! Why? Because “texting and the utilitarian mind-set are naturally corrosive toward poetry and imagination.” Continue reading