An Aptitude for Excellence
YOUNG ADULTS ARE about the business of “getting a life.” They imagine lives for themselves that are defined almost entirely by the good things they seek. Most would like to make a reasonable living, to have good friends, to meet someone they love and who loves them deeply, to marry and remain faithful all their days, and to have a family. They want to lead good and decent lives and somehow make a difference in the world, and they want to have some fun along the way. Of course, whether they reach their goals will depend not just on their abilities, aspirations, and circumstances, but also on the decisions they make. Some decisions young people make will help them to realize their goals. Others will work against their ever achieving what they most fundamentally desire.
“Getting a life” takes work and prudence. It requires that over time we come to know ourselves, to understand other people, to develop a life plan, and to figure out how to make good decisions that ultimately will get us where we want to go. We form our plans and make our decisions not all on our own, but within a cultural context that shapes not only what we value but also how we actually behave.
Hook-up culture—the practice of being sexually intimate even though the partners are not even committed to one another as special friends—is the social reality in which most young people in the United States find themselves today. It is hyped by media and marketers, it holds sway in high schools and on college