This week, a scientific study revealed that “young millennials” (aka people born in the ‘90s) are having less sex than people born in the ‘80s, Gen Xers, and even less sex than baby boomers, which, ew. 15% of 20-24 year-olds born after 1990 have not had any sexual partners since age 18, compared to a mere 6% of Gen Xers at that age. And these fuckers have Snapchat! How are they getting laid less than your mom when they have Snap fucking chat?!?
The reasons for all this aren’t totally apparent, but one thing this study shows is crystal clear: we are experiencing a Millennial Fuck Crisis.
So BuzzFeed asked a bunch of tech thinkfluencers, CEOs, VCs, entrepreneurs, and gurus how to solve this. How can tech disrupt the Millennial Fuck Crisis?
Chris Sojka, co-founder of creative agency Madwell: Sex is a platform. The oldest and best connection mechanism there is. Let's treat it like one, and build a mechanism to guide people away from distraction toward interaction. I've always felt the "Do Not Disturb," button on iPhones could do so much more. The message is simple: disconnect to connect.
"Sex is a platform."
Cindy Gallop, founder Make Love Not Porn: This is exactly what Make Love Not Porn is addressing, by building a whole new category online — social sex — to take the shame and embarrassment out of sex and make it easier to talk about, thereby encouraging better communication around sex to enable more and better sex IRL.
Every other social network/platform isn't helping, because they forbid any form of natural, normal, healthy sexual self-expression/self-identification. MLNP celebrates what currently gets you kicked off Instagram, Tumblr account shut down, blocked on Facebook — the universal human use case we are all so fucked-up about. MLNP is socializing sex to create better, closer human connections in the real world.
Because everyone's so deeply uncomfortable talking about sex, coverage of sextech defaults to the side that's easier to talk about and geek out about — the hardware. 'Teledildonics!' 'VR porn!' 'Sex robots!' MakeLoveNotPorn operates on the side we really need — the software: sextech designed to bring people closer together in the real world, vs sextech designed to drive us further and further apart into our own little virtual worlds.
Serge Gojkovich, U.S. CMO of dating app Happn: More romance IRL. The solution is at their fingertips with the next generation of dating apps – Happn. With our fast growth in the U.S. and our 20 million globally engaged users, we're turning missed connections between millennials into real romance possibilities.
Tristan Pollock, entrepreneur in residence at 500Startups and founder of Storefront and SocialEarth: Here's how Silicon Valley can help millennials have more sex:
- Add analytics to Tinder
- Tie in sexual activity into the Apple Health app (e.g. # of humps completed today)
- Pokemon Go for "catching" dates
- Put them in VR headsets in the same room without having to touch each other
- Snapchat face filters that can be worn while in bed
- Make sex social with 3nder (Tinder for 3 somes - it’s a real app)
- Reduce the time it takes down to millennial attention spans: 10 seconds (oh, wait - that's how long it takes anyways)
- Make foreplay more like tapping and swiping an iPhone
In all seriousness:
- Intimacy apps like Pillow and OMGYES teaching REAL sex (not fake porn)
- Take digital detox sabbaticals from sexual content
Anna Pulley, sex advice columnist and author of The Lesbian Sex Haiku Book (with Cats!): The tech sector should come up with an app that allows millennials to decipher flirtatious and sexually suggestive emojis. What doe she mean when she says fried shrimp + hand wave + dragon??? Also, texting someone those dancing bunny girls is practically second base. Sure, millennials could just ASK the person what they mean, but communication is labor-intensive and really gets in the way of their Snapchatting.
"Yeah, I'm talking about Pokemon Fuck."
Farhad Manjoo, tech columnist for the New York Times: A lot of these experts are arguing that screen-based dating is to blame. I dunno, that seems off to me; seems like meeting online rather than in person could only help. I, like most men, am terrible in person but online I come alive in an explosion of charm and wit ... OK, actually, so maybe the experts are right, maybe it is Tinder's overly visual dating sensibility that has made everyone keep their pants on.
So how do we solve that?
Technology can surely help. We have to gamify sex. Yeah, I'm talking about Pokemon Fuck. I haven't ironed out all the details and it would probably only work with a heavy police presence but basically what you'll have is people going around in search of those stupid cartoon pets, but instead of throwing a dumb ball at them, the game gives you points for hooking up. I guess?
For real, though, this doesn't sound like a tech problem. It sounds to me like young people have lots of problems — work, money, etc — and maybe for pretty sound reasons, they're not wasting their time with sex. Still a tragedy, but maybe not a tech one.
Dimo Trifonov, founder of threesome dating app Feeld: I find it hard to believe Millenials are having less sex. Millennials also value experiences — which can be enhanced through technology. When I looked to extend my sexual experiences, I turned to technology — I built Feeld. Feeld was inspired by my partner’s and my desire to meet other openminded and sexually curious humans. That’s something technology does well — it can connect people and ideas so that anyone who may feel isolated and restricted by society’s norms can find others who share their more open minds.
@ProfJeffJarvis (not the real Jeff Jarvis FYI), thinkfluencer: I carefully scanned the recent report using my Big Data machine, and was surprised to find so many Millennials from the Tinderpocalypse generation having less sex than previous generations. I would argue that a new approach is needed, that leverages key tech paradigms. Firstly, sex needs to be gamified. In every other app, people are used to receiving Likes and badges in return for participation. Why not sex too? Everyone has a smartphone now. Secondly, there is an urgent need to crowdsource sex. At the moment it is a hidden, personal event, with very little publicness and transparency. Open the curtains and let the light in! There is no reason why sex shouldn't benefit from the same Wisdom of Crowds that has made Indiegogo and Kickstarter so successful.
Heather Armstrong, blogging pioneer, Dooce: Millennial women need a mentor. "A single mother in her forties who understands that Tinder has destroyed intimacy" kind of mentor who can introduce them to toys.
"we’re all going to be living inside Oculus Rift soon enough — what good will our bodies do us when we’re all jacked into the Matrix?"
Chris Messina, development experience lead at Uber: Maybe there should be a National No-Selfie Day — so for one day out of the year, people wouldn’t feel so much pressure and angst to look perfect and would instead let their freak flag fly boldly and live carefree and in the moment, willing to contort their faces into paroxysms of ecstasy undetectable by Snapchat’s face detection algorithms and therefore free from social media shaming.
Or millennials could put down Pokemon Go when they’re in the back of an UberPOOL and strike up a conversation with their fellow riders — because, y’know, they’re basically heading in the same direction in life.
Or millennials could just download Feeld and literally get more bang for the buck with the Tinder for threesomes and moresomes. That’s one way to tip the scale back in the other direction: scale!
Or, perhaps millennials should just embrace this new, less-sexual revolution… we’re all going to be living inside Oculus Rift soon enough — what good will our bodies do us when we’re all jacked into the Matrix? Oh wait… that’s a Gen X reference. Never mind.
Nancy Jo Sales, journalist and author of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Life of Teenagers: I think to focus on whether or not young people are "having more sex," as if that's the most important part of this discussion, is strangely puritanical. Oh, they're not having a lot of sex (allegedly)? Then everything's OK, we don't need to worry about anything that's going on — that seems to be the weird thinking behind all this. But what's going on that's of concern, I think, isn't about the "amount of sex" people are having. It's about how they are treating each other in the context of sex. That is what my Vanity Fair piece was about and to a certain degree what my book American Girls is about: how we are treating each other in the digital age, women and men, boys and girls.
My piece in Vanity Fair was not about whether or not millennials are "having more sex,” it was about the kind of callous attitudes towards sex, particularly sexist attitudes towards sex, that seem be fostered by current hookup culture as it has melded with dating app culture. Are we using technology to make us happier, more satisfied sexually, more respectful and kind to each other? Or is something else going on? I think this is what we should be asking, not "how much sex" people are having — because, really, who cares?
Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt: In part, it's tech's fault. Increasingly our relationships and communications are online. Some people even form intimate friendships without even meeting one another, through reddit, World of Warcraft, and other online communities. This is depressing younger millennials — those that grew up with the Internet and smartphones — thirst and opportunity to have sex.
But don't worry, there are a few folks inspiring millennials to procreate. There's Spoonr, the app for "cuddlers"; Blindfold, a digital foreplay assistant; and the recently rebranded Feeld for open-minded couples and singles.
Alexandra Fine, CEO of crowdfunded sex toy company Dame Products: I actually don't think that technology is as much of a part of it as the social pressures telling us "don't have sex, don't have sex, herpes herpes herpes, unwanted pregnancy, etc." That's the larger problem here.
We need to teach pleasure in school. We need to stop telling kids that sex just equals babies and reiterate that it can be a source of happiness and connection. If we continue to teach that sex is a bad, dangerous, risky thing, and that it warrants guilt, then this is an inevitable result.
In regards to technology, I think the same issue that comes into play when we compare ourselves to others' life statuses via social media is relevant here. Technology and entertainment are burning us out, and people feel overwhelmed by a mix of overexposure, sexual FOMO, and unrealistic standards that cause the new "normal" to seem unattainable, or even scary.
It's the way I feel when I tell myself that I'm going to finally start running — whenever I see an Instagram of some wellness guru doing a Dolphin Pose face first into an amaranth smoothie bowl on top of a glacier, I wonder, "What's the point?" We're intimidated by unrealistic standards we see set for us.
Overall, I don't believe it’s technology that is solely creating most of the problems that we have with sex as a society but just as with any other topic, there's a good chance that it's exaggerating those problems.
Mike Kulich, publicist for xHamster, a porn site that we will not be linking to here: Technology may have something to do with it. There is so much adult content available at the click of a button wherever you are. Porn is great for personal sexual health but in my opinion does distract some people from healthy sexual relationships. There needs to be a healthy balance. Sites like xHamster have added things like adult webcams so even though the viewer isn't actually having sex they are making an emotional connection with another human being.
"Drive people to events like Burning Man, start another hippie movement, or shut down PornHub for a week."
Alex Goldman, cohost of the Reply All podcast: Being a virgin, I know very little about sex. But I believe that the best innovation comes from the least likely places. I think that we simply need to invest in those twitter bots that try to get you to join porn sites by favoriting your tweets and having things like "Hello sex friend I want you to see my bobbs ;)" in their bios. Except instead of leading to porn sites, they will instead lead to some kind of singles site for lazies, where dates are set up and then catered to by some person that the dating site hires off of Taskrabbit. This person will drive you to your date, wheel you around in wheelchairs, cook dinner for you, select the movie. They can even put the penis in the vagina, if you want (or however you do sex. I'm a virgin, I'm not judging). Maximum amount of sex, minimum amount of work for lazy millennials.
Valerie Vlasenko, community manager of meal replacement drink Ambronite: Let’s look at the older generation’s lifestyle. Setting aside the amount of sexual content available, what did those people actually enjoy doing? They spent much less time on social media, and much more on drinking and partying. They were more prone to physical than digital interactions. Therefore, in my opinion what Silicon Valley can do in this regard is to re-introduce “sex-drugs-rock’n’roll” concept :). Drive people to events like Burning Man, start another hippie movement, or shut down pornhub for a week — anything that would turn people away from their screens towards each other.
Marc Andreessen, VC at Andreessen Horowitz*: [passed]
*Andreessen Horowitz is an investor in BuzzFeed. But unfortunately for me, apparently that investment money doesn’t come with a willingness to comment on really stupid questions.