At Harvard, women and men alike understand the powerful productivity that selfishness can produce. We don’t simply want to stay here, barely completing our undergraduate degrees in between hangovers. We want jobs in finance and consulting. We want everything: the house, cars, girls and/or guys, respect, political fame, national status, and of course, money to blow. The scary thing is that we know that it’s all ours, and we know how to get it, but getting everything requires the kind of selfish power that (despite whatever initial intentions one may have had) creates a conscious desensitization of interpersonal relationships on campus. Our most basic instincts beg us for human interaction, while our logic and our goals summon opposite feelings, so we compromise, and at Harvard this comprise is most appropriately embodied by the Harvard social scene and its hook up culture. This selfish super power that we all posses, like any super power, comes with a great responsibility, only this responsibility is to numbero uno; which in my opinion is the driving force behind the hook up culture that dominates our social scene.
Hook ups happen, not because we’re free to “socially act out” as college students, but rather, for these three reasons: instant gratification, easy accessibility, and perhaps most importantl– a lack of liability. Harvard, especially our social scene, promotes those selfish super powers. There are those people on campus who are kind of like sleezy used cars salesmen (Think Matilda’s dad in the movie Matilda); The car lots are Clubs, dorm parties, Frats, any social gathering really, and everyone is there trying to make profitable deals by trading their unreliable products. Every salesman in these places knows that the car they’re trying to sell won’t last more than a couple months, but every person is still there looking for a trade because they need a car in order to commute between the satisfactions of their instincts and of their logical long term goals.
I’m not saying that you won’t luck out and get a car that lasts you a lifetime. But at least for me, most people grow out of each other quickly. It may take one night, a couple weeks, or even a few months, but we usually move on effortlessly, because we don’t really have to emotionally move forward; our selfish orientations permit us to disconnect our emotions from our ‘cars’ and just focus on each individual trip that we can get. And, once the car gives out, you just go back to the lot, find a new salesman, and trade it in. You trade in one body for another, you can tell yourself “Not this one. There’s a connection. I love driving it”, but let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment shall we? After maybe a few months, you realize the pseudo “connection” that you thought you were feeling was really just relief from the fact that you no longer had to choose between satisfactions; you had both your logic and a face to wake up to in the morning, and its great but it’s also an incrementally conditioned situation. There always comes that point when your personal commute between satisfactions becomes overstrenuous and that along with the fact that neither person from the original trade is really willing to commute from their goals to your happiness, combine with our deep desire for communal relief, to create a positive feedback loop with a hook up culture devoid of emotional attachments and focused on the movement of a body.
Our social scene is unique to our collective personality as a campus, it works for us and I don’t think many people would actually change it if they could. Yeah, it may not be the most romaticized perspective of social interactions between Harvard students, but it’s real and at the end of the night we always come out on top. We’re good at getting what we want, especially when what we want is each other.