Bill Murchison
Among the A-No. 1 reasons for growing indifference to the terms of marriage and family life is ... I guess we could look at a lengthy story this week from The New York Times. To wit:

"It is now pretty well understood that traditional dating in college has mostly gone the way of the landline, replaced by 'hooking up' -- an ambiguous term that can signify anything from making out to oral sex to intercourse -- without the emotional entanglement of a relationship."

Women involved in this offhanded enterprise once were "more interested in romance than in casual sex encounters." No more. As the Times found from "lengthy interviews with more than 60 women" at the University of Pennsylvania, personal success seems to trump all other considerations at the elite schools that serve as pacesetters for American higher ed.

"I positioned myself in college in such a way," one woman told the Times, "that I can't have a meaningful romantic relationship, because I'm always busy, and the people that I am interested in are always busy." And so one night earlier this year, she confessed, "she texted her regular hookup -- the guy she is sleeping with but not dating. What was he up to? He texted back: Come over. So she did. They watched a little TV, had sex and went to sleep." She told the Times she didn't even like him.

The article goes on in this vein for quite a long time. Male-female relationships don't count for much on campus these days. What counts is professional drive, ambition, career satisfaction, staying perpetually busy. Sex equals hookup: brief, impersonal. One woman explained to the Times that "her classmates tried very hard to separate sex from emotion, because they believed getting attached to someone would interfere with their work. They saw a woman's marrying young as either proof of a lack of ambition or a tragic mistake that would stunt her career."

A new world is in the making -- one intensely personal; a world of Self. No wonder growing numbers concede to those who claim it the right to form any kind of attachment that suits them -- heterosexual, homosexual, fertile, childless.

Single, as well -- determinedly detached, save from those they unavoidably encounter along the pathway to success or mediocrity.

It has to be said that the University of Pennsylvania isn't the world. Nor is the Times the world's certified interpreter.

The styles and views of the elite drive chiefly the elite. On the other hand, haven't the elite always made it their mission to inspire the earth's grosser, more dim-witted corners?

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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