The Daily Gamecock

Column: Gay or straight, new media hurts marriage

Materialist culture isolates individuals

The debate on marriage has come to the forefront of today’s legal battles, media coverage and daily conversation. “Marriage Equality” for the LGBTQ community is now being deemed the final frontier of the battle for civil rights in the United States. Opponents of gay marriage and civil unions posit that this is a destruction of “traditional marriages” and the core of family structure.

But perhaps it is necessary to examine the underlying forces that underpin and bolster the institution of marriage before such conclusions can be drawn. My father recently told me that a family is “simply a collection of souls struggling to overcome mutual problems.”

As I reflected upon his comment, I realized that he laid bare a hidden innate wisdom that points to an ignored cause in the decay of time-honored human bonds and relations. Traditional marriage is indeed on the decline, but due to a lack of shared difficulties between partners rather than a lack of opposing genders.

We are cursed by our own societal progress — we no longer need to marry to live in scarce housing, we are no longer pressured to procreate and raise children in order to sustain family business and the elimination of extreme poverty with the development of social safety nets has taken away the impetus to marry out of the necessity of earning a shared income.

At the same time, our culture has substituted mutual respect and empathy with lust and self-promotion as our ideals of success and prestige. Those “golden rule” posters that were hung around the protected bubble environment of our school classrooms are somehow not reflected in the sexualized YouTube videos and Top 40 music of our real-life youth or the short term profit-seeking work policies in the corporate offices of our adulthood.

Our quest for materialistic dominance and self-gratification has numbed us to the needs of others, including those who we are supposed to hold dearest. Snooki and The Situation, as well as the plethora of other oh-so-very heterosexual “reality” stars that have become the obsession of an entire generation, exist as the real poison to “traditional marriage” by subtly changing how our minds perceive the baseline of human interaction.

Do we really need endless therapy sessions telling us now how to love and care for one another? Do we really believe that all of these family problems existed in the past and have arisen to the level of public scrutiny simply because of the liberalization of sexual relations and the elimination of cultural taboos?

In a 21st century “keeping up with the Joneses” phenomenon on steroids, we are constantly bombarded with self-loving, carefully curated images of our online “friends” and their comparatively unblemished prosperity on the social media sites that we browse daily instead of appreciating the real-life flaws and beauties of the loved ones around us.

We need to shun the allure of self-indulgence and stop acting on our constant paranoia that there is something better behind the next door, believing that maybe if we act more in line with the herd mentality, mimic the actions of TMZ’s favorite objects of discussion, or take a few more pictures, that somehow intimacy and fellowship will develop naturally with others.


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