The dread I get in my stomach when I think about going on a first date is the same one I get when I think about taking my driving test. I think it's all that pressure to convince somebody that you're good enough to do whatever it is you're doing multiple times again in the future, whether it be competently operating a vehicle, or making jokes, drinking wine and snogging (although of course that depends on how far you want to go. On the date I mean. Don't snog your driving instructor, I think that counts as a major and you'll fail).
Luckily for me, I'd always thought that the way you tricked someone into going out with you was hanging around them for a while until they find your company moderately endearing and then cornering them on a group night out and telling them you thought they might be your soulmate. It was quite a shock, then, when a load of different people started telling me I had to get on Tinder 'because that's just how people meet now'.
I'll be honest, I find it weird that people say that, because I think Tinder has only been around for a year or two, prior to which I don't think the human race ever came close to dying out. But all the same, it was enough to put the willies up me and I duly downloaded it and began to arbitrarily judge people on their appearance. The whole thing was a bit admin intensive though - I find it hard enough to text my own mates back sometimes, let alone some bloke in Hackney who works in IT and who wants to know if I'm a cat or a dog person. And then inevitably makes some reference to my pussy.
But being the sucker for punishment I am, I had a go on Happn, which is the same thing of being able to render someone existentially pointless if you don't think they're fit, but with people specifically in the areas you spend a lot of time in. As I live in Herne Hill, I was immediately bombarded with every single employee of Price Waterhouse Cooper who are all called Barnaby or Quentin or Henry, and have a lot of photos of themselves on boats.
What's my problem with these apps? Well, they made me feel quite frankly sullied as a human being. Something I have always been relieved to be generally unconcerned about is whether or not men deem my outward appearance to be sexually gratifying. I'm normally too busy thinking about matters of great importance such as political revolution or what to have for dinner, etc etc. But all of a sudden I started to feel bad about the way I looked and wonder what people thought of my nose and WHY DOES NO ONE LIKE ME???
And the other thing was that actually, I don't think that finding a person you may or not want to share a fairly sizable portion of your time with should be akin to going to a shop and saying 'nope too hairy, nope too much face paint, oooh yes lovely cheekbones, nope too unstable-looking'. Human beings are not interchangeable ephemera, they are complicated, fascinating, intricate things with histories and thoughts and feelings. They are not like ordering a bloody Big Mac.
Of course, I hear some of you say, 'JEEZ, lighten up Jessie, some of us just want a shag alright! IS THAT SO WRONG!' Which is, of course, absolutely permitted, but you can achieve the same result if you just go down to Wetherspoons with some mates and make eye contact with large clouds of testosterone - and that's without the cumbersome preamble where you have to pretend to be interested in what you're both doing at the weekend. How do you think people in the 1960s copped off with each other? There weren't even Nokia 3310s then, let alone iPhones.
I just don't believe that sitting hunched over a phone and tapping a screen will ever replace actually going outside and actually talking to some actual people. Even romantic comedies, which aren't known for their gritty realism, will tell you that bumping into some bloke at a wedding/in a bookshop/at a regency ball is a far more exciting and effective way of maintaining a real adult relationship.
Because do you know what's more enriching to your life than sitting in an overpriced cocktail bar with a person you're never going to talk to again because there's less sexual frisson than your nan's 80th birthday party and you wish you'd just stayed at home drinking tea and watching Question Time? Going outside and talking to real people - even if you don't fancy them or want to marry them or even put your hands down their trousers - because as well as all that shit hot Vitamin D you'll absorb, you might find that they teach you something you didn't know, or they tell you a really amazing joke, or that you actually end up becoming really really good friends.