Sadly, I'm out of touch with the kids these days. I just found out who Arcade Fire is and I don't even know where the big parties are anymore.
As I, senior year dinosaur, tromp my way across campus to my literature classes, I can't help but overhear all this new fangled lingo that freshmen keep learning from the Kanye Twitter.
""Naw, dude, we just hooked up.""
""Karen hooked up with Tony last night? Isn't he a virgin?""
""We just made out. I didn't feel like hooking up last night.""
""Hook up."" Apparently this mystery term is being used to describe a variety of interaction between two people (sometimes three). But as far as cultural phenomena in terminology go, there seemed to be an apparent gap in consensus about its appropriate and apparent use. Thus, I deemed an investigation necessary and took it to the streets.
Remy Albillar: How do you define ""hooking up""?
Luke Undhjem (undeclared freshman): ""Anything, even like just making out with someone you're not dating. A one-night thing. Any kind of sexual activity.""
Ry Baxter (undeclared freshman): ""Kinda depends. It used to mean ‘just kissing,' for me.""
Cassia Griswold (pre-pharmacy sophomore): ""A one-time encounter with no commitment and no expectations. I don't know. It depends on the person you're talking to.""
Blast! No trends appeared in terms of securing a firm definition for ""hook up."" However, what did appear is a connection between the use of the term and the ""user"".
Baxter: ""Yeah, if you knew that person was kind of … like ‘free love.' Probably, all the way. But if you know they're really conservative, looking for the right person, you'd be shocked to find they went all the way.""
Jessica Ahles (sophomore studying anthropology and journalism): ""Now, it's gone to more of an extreme level. People would have to clarify.""
Despite the near ubiquitous acceptance of the term, the phrase ""hook up"" persists as a conscious discursive placeholder. We may never be able to tie down ""hook up"" to a concrete rule, but that vigorous ambiguity suggests something more significant. Perhaps the use of the term, despite an inherent lack of clarity, mirrors in part the character of the culture using it.
Undhjem: ""It's easier. It sounds a little more impressive. Instead of saying ‘we just made out,' you can say ‘I hooked up with a nice girl last night.'""
Kurt Mohty (mathematics sophomore): ""They use the word ‘hook up' because they want to have a bragging tone while they also don't divulge any details. They're vague so you wonder what happened.""
Griswold: ""That's usually the connotation I hear about it, and they want you to assume the sexual connotation instead of something innocent.""
Drawing from my research, it seems in line with the nature of the ""hook up"" experience to find it hard to qualify. College students are, after all, but thousands of ships on their maiden voyages, buffeted by the harsh seas of stress, personal growth and alcohol. It seems only natural that we would make a habit of capsizing, often quite forcefully, with our peers.
If anything, the simultaneously universal and enigmatic nature of ""hook up"" reflects a culture unified in its lack of knowing what it wants.
After all, if we always knew what we wanted, who we wanted, and who we wanted to be, would we ""hook up""