A Tinder article, really?! I know, I know, Tinder is like totally SO two years ago. Like with all social media advances I am painfully stubborn at moving with the times. This isn't really an article about Tinder anyway, it's another gentle reminder about how we allow social networking into our lives and whether we keep, as individuals and a society, these harmless, convenient, and fun tools for interaction in check.
It was a Friday afternoon and I haven't been on a real date for a long time. My friend messaged me saying she's been chatting with a nice guy on tinder. She's suggested for quite a while that I lighten up, let go and give it a try. I admittedly have an ego just like everyone else which enjoys the same attention, admiration, and desire thrown towards it once in a while. We live in an 'on-demand' culture and the idea of romance on demand rather than waiting for it to sporadically pop into my life does sound appealing.
Everybody seems to do it nowadays...
When I was younger online dating was exclusively for people who couldn't get anybody in real life. The terminally hopeless; tragic women left on the shelf, creepy men with zero social skills. Yet now it has become so "normal" that I am by far the odd one out for never having partaken. I recently had a conversation with an ex boyfriend about it all:
Me: I just hate the idea of trying to date a picture on a phone.
Him: You don't have to spend too long shopping. It's the same as when you see fit surfers on a beach. I see fit Colombians on an app, we all go for a drink, wait and see what happens. Repeat until your soul is hollow.
I should point out my ex is smart, funny, good looking and with a very successful career. We dated for over four years, so the theory that I'd never find "my type" on a dating app clearly was no longer valid. I was increasingly spurred on by the fact that a close, and utterly awesome, friend of mine got married this year to a man she met on tinder. Yet more proof that it is not some seedy world exclusively for weirdos. Bored as hell, yet still incredibly embarrassed by it all, I created an account.
It took less than 5 minutes for the rush to hit me...
I was deciding who to potentially allow into my life based on the shallow judgement of a few photos and occasionally a one sentence description. Men were inviting me to judge them entirely on empty information, and it was SO much fun. Cautious at first of remaining respectful (after all these are fellow human beings, right?!) it actually took less than 12 hours until I was laughing to myself at certain photos, which like an air borne disease had spread within 24 hours into gossiping with friends about it all. Like someone trying smack for the first time I justified to myself that it is not a big deal and I could stop anytime, yet I spent an alarming amount of the day swiping thoughtlessly left like a dating zombie, for hours at a time.
I am not intentionally climbing onto my moral high horse about this...
I am not so uptight that I don't see the obvious upsides to application dating; a chance to meet new people you would never normally encounter in your daily life is a huge benefit. It's just that the line between light hearted fun and hollow devaluation of human connections ultimately felt too ill defined for me. I had always been concerned that the increased use of social networking for romance had a worrying potential to kill off the subtle, and beautifully vulnerable act of engaging with one another in person; at the bus stop, at the beach, in a coffee shop. I mean, eventually why even risk face to face rejection at all if you can go to an online catalogue to browse for dates. It even protects your pride, as others won't ever know about your interest in them unless they are interested too! And as if by magic...voilà...risk free dating.
I didn't like the demons I saw emerging in myself...
Melodramatic or not, I could feel the life force of my soul draining away with every swipe, yet it was hard to detect as it was instantly replaced by my chubby little ego having its face stuffed more and more by the second. It strengthened my egos desperate desire to believe in instant external gratification. Yes please, I will take a big slice of love and validation thank you very much, oh no, no need to wrap it, I'm just going to eat it straight away. At the same time it choked the instinctive voice inside telling me attraction is so much more complicated than flicking through hundreds of potential partners can ever account for.
There's no denying that relying on face-to-face interactions requires more patience, and takes more time. It often seems chaotic in design, and whether you cross paths or not is simply a twist of often mischievous fate, but is that not also the random beauty of life too?! There are plenty of tinder fairytale stories out there, I only speak for myself when I say; it felt like it was filling me up at first but very quickly left me feeling empty. Even worse it made me question who I was and what I wanted my little world to look like. People are not disposable commodities in the 'my world' I am striving to create, and I felt quite frankly ashamed at how quickly I managed to forget that.