We live in a world that is constantly bombarding us with information, made available at our fingertips thanks to smart phones. We don’t need to go far to look for the things we need, the things we desire, information we seek, and, now, even the people we want.
WebMD made available through Google can diagnose you with nose cancer before your doctor has time to prescribe cold meds. Facebook will happily tell you who is farming and who is crushing candy and whether your friend is safe in the face of a natural disaster, even if said friend is someone you didn’t know was geographically placed there, because let’s be honest: you haven’t spoken to that person in years and you have no idea what’s going on. Snapchat & Instagram will let you glimpse at peoples most intimate and sometimes irrelevant moments for a short period of time just so you can feel included, relevant, connected.
In this world, it would be natural to come up with dating apps too — we don’t have time anymore — to help us find our most ideal mate with limited effort. AI will do it for you. We have handed over so much of our lives to AI, and, now, the algorithms govern us, they tell us what is best for us.
My experiences with online dating have varied from vastly devastating to my personal growth, to utterly comical enough for me to consider pursuing a career in stand-up comedy. But, in all fairness it has been highly educational on the general human condition, and, I’d like to tell you what I have learnt.
Look your best, tinder will do the rest
Tinder has been, and always will be an app that fascinates me! Before we get into my experiences with it, I must let you know what I bring to the table with online dating: my profile always has the required number of images. These images are all of only my face. This is deliberate: I’ve discovered over time that people actually curate the images they put on their profile to actually tell a story. For example, a picture of you teaching kids in some remote part of the world should make my heart flutter and think, “Wow! What a humanitarian!’ The image of you standing at the top of a mountain will definitely let me know you are into fitness and adventure. So what do I do? I just let my mostly expressionless face do all the talking, if a picture is going to speak a thousand words.
Then comes, what I consider to be the crucial part: my description. Experience has taught me that most people do not read that part and my expressionless face is doing all the work, thanks to the privilege of being a cis woman. Seems to me, like that is checking all the boxes — especially convenient if you are considered to be conventionally beautiful (a problematic issue in and of itself, but, one I cannot unpack in a few sentences, here). But, my all-important description, that I spent quite a lot of time thinking up, as I took this seriously: Bisexual, Polyamorous, Feminist, Singer, Poet, Hair&Makeup artiste. Socially awkward, until tequila.
You see, I thought honesty was the best policy. All of those things I mentioned we’re supposed to let people-who-swiped-on-me know that these aspects of me are non-negotiable — except the tequila. I am perfectly comfortable being socially awkward.
Behold! The creep brigade
What it led to were the following types of conversations:
Oh wow! I love how open you are. Translation: would you like to engage in a threesome with me as you are bisexual and poly and obviously I’ve taken that to mean you will sleep with anyone?
You’re Poly? That’s interesting. I’m exploring that myself! Translation: I’m considering cheating on my partner and need a partner in crime who feels no guilt and I think that is you because I believe poly people have no moral code. I believe this as I have spent exactly two seconds researching what poly means.
Nice to finally see a feminist around here. I’m a feminist too! Don’t you just hate when men… (Insert some male bashing statement) Translation: this one isn’t difficult to translate really: not a feminist, just trying to act like we have similarities, when in reality, they are just misogynists in feminist clothing. This is my least favourite type.
I love tequila too! We should have a tequila date. Translation: Let’s get drunk and jump into bed with each other in our inebriated state, because this is how I hook-up with people and I have no
concept of consent.
As you can see, my experiences have been far from pleasant. In the beginning, this had left me quite disheartened to say the least! But, over time, I learnt something that changed my outlook: the thing about online communications, not limited to Tinder — you find this across Bumble, okCupid, even on just social media apps with people sliding into your DM’s to flirt — is the safety of distance it provides. You are not standing in front of me and making these highly problematic and downright disgusting statements to my face.
At the point when you are making it, I am not even human, just an image that might or might not be real — thanks to so much cat-fishing —and, this allows you to be whoever you wish to be. In some cases, the honesty is refreshing. If I agree with the person we can then move forward to meeting and hopefully, the person that turns up is actually the person I spoke to. If I don’t agree, with a click of a button, that person is now out of my life and not someone that I need to think of anymore.
But, is it always that clear I wonder?
Think with your head, not with your heart
From the man who gave me body image issues by stating that I was kind of fat for a skinny girl — I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge that I was genuinely confused at that moment on whether I was skinny-shamed or fat-shammed. I was only sure that I was body-shammed.
To, the girl who ghosted me after a wonderful date we had — again, the last thing she asked me was why I didn’t kiss her. Well, because you were quite drunk by the end of the night and I just wanted to get you home safe and not be a creep that made a move on a drunk girl, Susan!
And to my favourite fail date: the one who invited me to his swingers club because he thought swinging and being poly are one and the same.
My dating experiences have left me quite jaded, to put it mildly.
Griping got me this far, let’s see what’s next!
I’ve stopped using Tinder, I sometimes log into Bumble, get tired of swiping and log out, I’m amazed that people still use poke on Facebook and I do not respond to any sliding-into-my DM humans. I’d rather head to bar and be disappointed face-to-face with a person after half an hour of conversation, and in the oddball chance of finding someone interesting, invite them for a coffee on a later date just to make sure that alcohol did not make me culpable.
The things I look for when I’m dating someone are honesty, authenticity, vulnerability and desirability. I don’t think an app can tell me that, even with the best algorithm in place.
Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the organic ways in which people meet. Besides, I’ve never thought that I’m so busy that I need an app to run my life for me, because the truth is, I’m genuinely not that busy!
I’d like to go to a coffee shop and lock eyes with someone across the café and see if sparks fly. Call me romantic, but isn’t that what the word Tinder implies?
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