Why Millennials and Gen Z are having Less Sex
The Internet is even better than the real thing it turns out
I was having a conversation in a bar with Ron Antopolski recently and the conversation casually drifted to “we’re becoming like Japan”. Japan, like other Asian countries, is known for a low-fertility rate and dating interactions so awkward that a significant number of adults are virgins. Pretty much a quarter of Japanese people in their 20s and 30s have never had sex.
In America you would have been laughed at had you thought that this would happen to us, say, in the 80s or 90s. Fast forward 30 years and that’s exactly what has happened to us.
We Are Following in Japan’s Footsteps
So it turns out smartphone addiction, ubiquitous access to porn, economic pressure, a decline in social skills and money grabbing Tinder apps mean our dating life sort of sucks, at least for young people.
Or perhaps they have become such enlightened pragmatists they are choosing to remain celibate on pace for not getting married and never living with a significant other. I actually just don’t think that’s the case. I don’t think it’s by choice.
The numbers are in, and it’s official: The Millennials are having less sex than any other cohort of homo sapiens that has ever lived — National Post
So a bit unlike what the National Post claims, this is not as much a Millennial problem, as it is a Gen Z problem — the kids younger than Millennials who are now 24 and under.
After all the economic trauma Millennials have endured with 2008, let’s not lump them in this issue too, it’s not entirely accurate.
According to research published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, Millennials are having less sex with fewer people than their parents did at the same age. A recent British study found that one in eight 26-year-olds is still a virgin. One third of American men aged 18 to 29 didn’t have sex once in all of 2018. So the data is most relevant to Gen Z.
Smartphones Have Hacked Our Sex Lives
The Gen Z that I know personally seem a lot more interested in their smartphones and apps than the opposite sex.
As if mobile apps, Netflix and YouTube can really compete against the most entertaining pursuit in history? Apparently they can, and they are killing it. Literally.
Young people are under more pressure with massive student loans, career pressure and economic uncertainty. Sex is often the last thing on their minds. Solo sex and porn have become the comfortable default, so why bother?
- Nearly 60 per cent of modern teenagers are staying virgins until after they graduate, a complete reversal of the 1990s, when a majority of teenagers had had sex by prom night.
- Millennials are not only waiting way longer to get married, but they’re doing it at way lower rates.
- Gen Z are likely going to completely redefine these trends on their own terms. Even as more people in their 20s “fall out of the Middle Class”.
- While global population rates rise higher until the 2050s, a population decline is coming after that.
A disproportionate number of Millennials and Gen Z are living with their parents. According to U.S. data, 15 per cent of 25 to 35-year-olds are living with their folks, nearly double the rate of early Baby Boomers. I don’t think they blame their parents for not having sex though. Bad dating apps, social media and time spent on mobile are more likely the culprit.
Smart Phone Addiction Means Decline in Face-to-Face Opposite Sex Interactions
How do you meet people when everyone is on their smartphone 24/7? Contrary to what Facebook wants you to think, the internet has been pretty rough on face-to-face interactions.
The advent of “swipe-right” Tinder-esque dating apps haven’t led to a sexual renaissance. Sure they take your money, but they aren’t likely giving you high quality dates, more evidence apps are failing to make people happier, I guess.
If hookups are your thing, Grindr and Tinder offer the prospect of casual sex within the hour. Good luck however if you’re a man or an average to normal looking woman. Young people aren’t entire idiots but these apps pretend you are.
Porn Is Closer than the Girl
What do you suppose happens to your brain though when you grow up on the internet as a sexual being? Every Millennial and Gen Z, who are digital native, has spent their entire dating lives in a world where bottomless free pornography was just a few clicks away. That’s a lot of porn consumption, maybe.
So to the perverse relief of many parents, educators and clergy members who care about the health and well-being of young people, teens are launching their sex lives later. Sometimes, not at all — waiting for connections that the modern world doesn’t make easy, or even likely.
If you thought Millennials were slow to purchase houses, how should they suddenly be embracing marriage? The more educated a woman is, the more likely she is to pursue a fulfilling and high-paced career. Who has time for dating? Unless you live in a smallish town and don’t spend your life on the internet.
Digital Dopamine is Better than Sex
My point is digital dopamine has tapped into our pleasure reward brain centers. The other day I said hi to a woman at the gym, most likely a Millennial. The shock that I’d initiated human contact in a setting where everyone is “plugged in” with headphones and smartphones near by was palatable. Oh my God, did he just talk to me? How inappropriate.
Millennials and Gen Z aren’t super uptight. We’re anxious because in many ways we’re living on the edge of survival. We don’t often know where our rent will come from or how to mix business and pleasure. Our work-life balance is horrendous, we are financially illiterate and often behind in our career path due to no fault of our own. Sex is a fucking luxury, dude! Try being a young-ish person in today’s society.
Social media and echo bubbles also pose a significant problem here. While we are very inclusive and diverse, we also live in a world where Facebook (Thanks Russia), and Twitter have created a divided world. So, yes, if your generation is willing to forego mind-blowing sex just because your partner voted for the wrong party, you might have a problem. Social media hasn’t brought us together, it’s killed our personal lives, making even those we once considered friends like anonymous online partners.
This is a Gen Z Issue not Really a Millennials One
In other words, in the space of a generation, sex has gone from something most high school students have experienced to something most haven’t. (And no, they aren’t having oral sex instead — that rate hasn’t changed much). The thing is Gen Z and Alpha cohorts are likely to have even less sex than real Millennials. Millennials are conflicted but they do eventually settle down or find a lifestyle that’s cool to them. The Snapchat generation isn't the same as the Facebook generation.
The Internet is a Fake Sexless World
From the late 1990s to 2014 studies have found, drawing on data from the General Social Survey, the average adult went from having sex 62 times a year to 54 times. So who do you suppose is to blame? Is it really a more competitive economy?
I’d be pretty fucking happy having sex 50 times a year. No wonder those baby boomers are aging so well. Now we have obesity, opioid addiction, fewer people staying in the Middle Class and worse debt to income ratios than we’ve seen in a long time. Screw the fake unemployment numbers, we have more part-time workers than ever before. That’s not more time to have sex, that’s less money to go on dates.
Gen Z could just be really much more goal oriented at a younger age, more street smart. All that texting could be giving them a sense of intimacy and security and even have some playful sexting too.
But they won’t be graduating into the same world. Automation is coming and there will be more robots on earth and it will be mean more humans having less sex, though you would think it would be the reverse. This is because it’s the job of companies like Apple, Google, Netflix and Facebook to addict you to things that are not real. If you think Netflix, YouTube and apps are addictive, just wait until you see what’s next.
A grand sexless world. Get fucking used to it!