I can’t decide what’s more unsettling, the demand for snuggling or the actual occupation of a professional snuggler. After watching Vice’s short segment, The Japanese Love Industry, I realized how immediate all of the dystopian novels I read in AP Literature junior year of high school are. Sure, I disagree with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to some extent, but maybe societies are evolving to a future where “self-esteem” is valued before “love and belonging”. Or maybe the Millennials hierarchy of needs does not even include “love”.
Photo from Quentin Hafner article on divorce
Who/what is to blame? Is the shift in relationships and interactions between females and males a product of the narcissistic nature of wanting to be successful in a high paying career, asynchronous technological communication or evolution of gender roles in society?
I would argue the answer lies within a perfect storm of all of these influences. Although Japan is the fastest declining population in the world, other primary countries in Western Europe and the United States aren’t far behind. People aren’t spending the time to get to know each other. They’re not getting married and most certainly are not having babies. Women and men alike are more captivated by easily available, attachment-free sexual experiences due to the time commitment of courtship and the intimidation of reality. In Japan, women and men are paying hundreds of dollars in host clubs to get all the attention they’d get in a relationship and walking away attachment free. Who wouldn’t want to pay a random stranger to pet you and deeply stare into your eyes in the pursuit of the comfort and emotions a hassling relationship provide?
The ability of women to support themselves and not be obligated to the domestic role they have played in society for thousands of years has contributed to more and more women realizing they don’t want a boyfriend, marriage and motherhood. Or maybe men have pushed women out of wanting these roles. I can’t be the only person who felt weirdly validated when Betty Draper had a one night stand after being this perfect housewife who conceded Don’s promiscuous lifestyle. Maybe the extinction of culturally defined roles has caused women to finally be able to experience and enjoy the behavior men have practiced historically.
What are Millennial’s and others who embrace a sex-driven and “disillusioned with love” society missing out on? I thought I would ask two people, one female and male, what being in love has provided for them…
“Physically, it makes me feel warm. A few times it’s made me feel sick. I experience heightened sensory memory. It makes me feel comfortable, safe, and happy. Being in love makes me think about the future.”
“Being in love makes me feel comfortable with who I am. It makes me understand who I am. It makes you actually feel and understand all the love songs you thought you knew you understood. It’s an amazing feeling to know you can sit back and know someone cares about you. Everyone should fall in love, it’s life changing.”
Is love losing its value as an innate human need? Or are people realizing these feelings can be derived from other easier and time efficient sources? Sure, the commodification for sex has been around for thousands of years, but will future generations find the commodification of intimacy a normative interaction?