By Nidhi Sinha:
“Hey do you wanna do this?”
“Use each other for sex at all hours of the day, nothing else!”
Yes you are right. These are the words of Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher from the movie ‘No Strings Attached’. But to think of it, they are only a reflection of the pop culture of today. This conversation could’ve taken place between any girl and boy who are attracted to each other but “not ready to commit” to each other. Undoubtedly, the ‘friends with benefits’ concept is famously rooted in our popular culture. Movies, songs and books inevitably feature such relationships without moralizing over them, in keeping with the post-modern tradition.
People, however, tend to moralize. The older generation’s utopian romance seems to be the yardstick that the current generation desperately fails to meet. In fact, that utopian concept of ‘transcendental love’ has been replaced by the equally utopian concept of ‘no strings attached’ relationships.
You might wonder why I’ve labelled it as utopian, when it is very much prevalent in the real world. It is prevalent, no doubt. But let us pause here and examine the recesses and genesis of this concept. The 21st century is characterized by its fast-paced life and the so called ‘warped’ existence. Ambition is the key word for the youth of today, not romance. They lack the mental space and time that romance requires and demands, and this in a way gives rise to increasing preference given to a no strings attached relationship. The individual is so caught up with himself and his surroundings that the presence of another person, their emotions and their surroundings becomes unbearably cumbersome after a point. Not as heroic as unrequited and selfless (often self-destructive) love, we might say. But things have got to change to ultimately evolve, haven’t they?
So, getting back to the utopia argument, here is why it has been called so. This seemingly ‘emotion-less’ attitude is very much an idyll, because no normal human being is bereft of emotions. Pleasure without emotional burdens is certainly desired by some individuals today, but for the most part, it is impossible to accomplish. Emotions creep in before you know it, as in the movies, and people end up falling in love. People who have experienced intensely emotional relationships in the past are all the more bound to run away from them, for the simple reason that it is too taxing to the mind. Since sexual pleasure is desired within or without relationships, the idea of sex without emotions would seem like the perfect alternative. Except people underestimate themselves, and delude themselves into thinking that they are made of such baser stuff as requires meaningless physical pleasure to keep their spirit alive. On the contrary, it dampens the spirit, damaging it in some cases. Each one of us wants to be loved at the end of the day. It is just a matter of finding a way to that love.
Time has changed the outlook towards love and relationships, and people adopt various methods to explore and exploit their proclivity, but the fascination with ‘the one’ right person will be relentless. It is human nature; no era can change it.
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