Netflix and no chill: why are Millennials having less sex?
Taking the chill part of Netflix and chill too far and falling asleep with a show illuminating your face. Sex life taking a back seat to work and social life. Sound familiar? I don’t know who needs to hear this but it’s not just you, and it’s not your fault.
Like everything in life, sex takes work, and you only get out what you put in. Somewhere along the way we got the idea that good sex comes naturally, and if we’re not coming hard and often then there must be something wrong with us. But this drought is a societal problem, and it doesn’t seem to be going away.
The Atlantic first identified the sex recession in 2019, profiling an American study that revealed Millennials were more than twice as likely to have no sexual partners compared to gen Xers. I guess we can add it to the list: no wealth, no houses and now no sex – sounds about right. If our life outlook is worse, so is our sex outlook. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. If we want to increase our odds of getting lucky, we have to do what we do best – stand up for what we believe in and create real change. To do that we need to identify the cause of the recession so we can adapt to it. So, what’s behind our decline?
With handheld devices and access to every subcategory under the sun, Millennials have grown up on porn. We’re not talking about a plastic-sealed Penthouse or Playboy purchased at the local Milk Bar, but unfettered access to all predilections and genres. Porn can definitely be a healthy and safe way to explore your sexuality. It can also be so stimulating (and at times removed from reality) that it can feel just as good, or at times better, than the discomfort and vulnerability that’s inherent in real sex. Tech upgrades like VR headsets and High Definition imagery make porn even more like reality, so it’s no surprise it can have an effect on our real sex lives.
There’s no hard and fast way to determine a) whether your porn habit is unhealthy and b) how to combat it if it is. Like most things to do with sex, it’s a case by case basis that’s unique to the individual. Start by working out if you’re happy with how you use porn, think about how much you use it, and if there’s any instances that you masturbate without it. From there you’ll be able to work out if cutting down will benefit you. We’d recommend positive reinforcement; celebrate using your imagination over your laptop, get excited about getting excited over a home movie – once you start to get creative, you’ll access an even sexier side of yourself because you’re not on autopilot. Being present with yourself helps you be present with a sexual partner.
Despite making dating accessible to anyone with a smartphone, apps seem to be making it harder to get laid. On top of that, the prominence of digital matches can make approaching someone in person seem awkward at best, and at worst, inappropriate. Real chemistry requires real interactions, and if we’re not going off chemistry then what is driving us on dating apps? Judging people ruthlessly based on their banter and a few photos doesn’t exactly get you in the mood, but it’s a requirement of online dating. Don’t get me wrong, apps can be great for casual sex or finding a partner – but I want to see the stats before I invest any more time. Are we really getting out what we put in? Perhaps we need to reframe our opinion from ‘dating apps’ to ‘apps that lead to hilarious and often ridiculous stories with a sprinkle of love and sex if you’re lucky (and photogenic).’
Netflix had the strongest uptake with Millennials when it first launched. We’ve come to age in an era where we’re more likely to share a bed with our laptop than another person. What started out as ‘Netflix and chill’ has become ‘Netflix until you fall asleep’. When you’re too tired you want to watch something, but that makes you even more tired and therefore less likely to get in the mood. It’s time to admit that streaming services are fucking up our sex lives so we can regain control. Did you know that Netflix’s competitor is not other streaming services, but sleep itself? So, if you ever feel bad about binge watching instead of fucking, remember that there’s a global company spending a lot of money to get and keep your attention. These days the app rarely asks you if you’re ‘still watching’ by default, but you can turn the function back on to help you reclaim your sex and (let’s be real) waking life.
How to turn autoplay off:
If only we were as tantalised by sex as we are by that mf like button. The Australia Talks National Survey 2021 revealed that 58% of people think technology has a negative impact on sex. Getting our (sex) lives back means prying our time and energy back from our phones. Putting your phone down helps you be more present, and more responsive to your body and your partner – both are essential for sex and intimacy. Experts advise starting out small if you’re not used to logging off and leaving your phone out of the room, so you aren’t tempted. Whatever your tactic, deciding to make a change is always the first step. And if you needed another reason to get off your phone so you can get off, it’s worth remembering that the best way to break a bad habit is by replacing it with a new one.
Late Stage Capitalism
Another 2019 study blamed the ‘sheer pace of modern life’ for the current generation’s lack of sex. I prefer to call it the trash fire era, and of course it’s drying us up. Ongoing racial inequality, climate change, COVID-19, conspiracy theories, 24/7 news cycles and extreme views in both political direction – sounds like a list of things to think of when you want to get rid of a boner, unfortunately for us it’s a daily reality. To deal with a volatile society we go into survival mode, and sex is the first thing that gets neglected. The cherry on top is the media selling us images of thin, beautiful people having unrealistic sex and making us feel inadequate. Next time you’re binge watching Too Hot to Handle in your stained trackies and Uber Eats, remember that what you’re seeing isn’t a reflection of reality. The majority of people are also in their trackies, also watching something that makes them feel a bit shit, and also thinking that they’re the only one that feels that way.