College-age “bros,” writes Oliver Lee Bateman, have an extensive bro-cabulary for their describing their exploits, but don’t say much about sex.
So what are the kids doing these days? The bros, I mean. How are they passing the time? There’s Madden 2012, of course. But what else?
If the success stories on a hook-up site called Booty Drop are to be believed, the bros are engaged in “pounding town,” “sexing randos,” and winning the hearts of unsuspecting girls at the campus library by poking them on the shoulder with those tumescent “pup tents” they can’t seem to stop “popping” throughout the day. The ever-expanding site—which claims to be “classy” and “respectful”—has become the new juicycampus.com, an online locus where anonymous users can share (mostly) untrue tales of their derring-do.
There are far nastier things to see on the Internet—the “m4m” listing on the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist is but one horrifying example—and no reputations are being harmed on Bootydrop. It’s “all in good fun,” I suppose—but what does this “fun” say about the bros who are getting their rocks off having it (or lying about having it, or reading the accounts of other people who are lying about having it)?
It seems to me that the Bootydrop bro who succeeds in convincing his victim “Miss No Tits” to “shack” and “sex” (after making a “mental note” that “doggy style is the best position for her”) is the bro of the future. Mind you, the bros have been with us for a long time, consuming their Mountain Dew and Xtube pornography with alacrity and brio, but it appears that we’re finally about to enter a golden age of bro-dom. The bros now have everything they want—unlimited access to their fantasy football lineups, Madden 2012 dynasties, Call of Duty bloodbaths, reasonably-priced frozen pizzas, and Tucker Max fanfiction—and few responsibilities to stop them from hunkering down in their rat hole apartments or the bonus rooms over their parents’ garages and becoming the best and loneliest bros they can be.
This is, in other words, a social capital-deprived world that eminent sociologist Robert Putnam might describe as “bro-ing alone,” were he to condescend to examine that curious subgroup of man-children. The way the bros write about their goings-on—the terse, anonymous, and self-aggrandizing language of their sexual exploits—befits our fragmented, ADD-afflicted age. I’m always amused when clueless grown-ups like Thomas Friedman write paeans to the Internet and the “global village” it has allegedly wrought, or when my fellow graduate students wax poetic about the unlimited possibilities for political organization presented by social media.
Maybe they’re at least partially right—undoubtedly what they’re saying about the merits of Twitter and Facebook holds true for those in their circle of friends—but I’m inclined to believe they’re mostly wrong. Rather, it appears that where men are headed—where the bros are headed, at least—is toward the sort of lifestyle limned by Mike Judge in his 2006 film Idiocracy: one where they drift aimlessly through the streets clad in loose hoodies and sweatpants, to return home in time to drop those sweats and start “batin’” the very moment that the sex urge strikes.
This is not, ceteris paribus, a terrible outcome for the bros. It is certainly a peaceful one—no one is harming anyone, and no one is doing much of anything—but it probably strikes older folks, the people who thumb their noses at sex tapes and x-rated Tumblr accounts, as disgusting. And for the women who might be left behind when these man-children disappear, well, it’s probably a melancholy, if not exactly horrifying, thought.
Perhaps I’m being too dramatic. Surely the bros I’ve taught at the University of Pittsburgh aren’t this far gone. At least some of the bros who contribute to Booty Drop must be putting themselves out there—“always at bars, skipping classes, sexing anyone decent,” as one person writes—but what of the generations that are coming after them? Will they want families? Companionship? Conversation that goes beyond “sup” and “nmu?”
A great transition has begun, not just in the ways that people communicate but also in terms of what they’re saying to one another. In thirty or forty years, the boomers will be dead and gone, and my own generation, deprived of the benefit of Medicare or any other form of late-life government-subsidized health insurance, may be on the way out. I’m already in danger of becoming obsolete—witness my confusion over something as inane as Booty Drop—and therefore incapable of writing anything that isn’t “tl;dr.” Should this piece about the bros have been reduced to a mere squib, buttressed with a handful of potent, bro-attracting tags like “pregaming,” “flip cup,” “doing the dirty,” “hitting it,” and the like?
Chances are, they’d still probably think that this stuff is weak sauce. And then they’d click on some link promising to add seven inches, because, hey, why not? What else is there to do?