Before the JDate account, the Tinder App, the mutual friend option on Facebook, the AOL chat rooms, dating was done through the pulsating nerves of our hearts. Not our fingertips. It was done with our voices. Not our keyboards.
Options for potential suitors were not everywhere. We couldn’t be bored at work, or on the toilet, or out to eat with our grandparents in a small, cold, boring town in Minnesota and decide to zone out and peruse local singles on a dating website. On a dating app.
You had to get off the couch – imagine that—and go outside to meet someone. You actually had to turn off the TV set, change out of your stained Scooby-Doo Christmas fleece pajamas, pop in a breath mint and try to have a conversation.
When you were out there, you were really all there. You didn’t have thousands of local singles on some database waiting for you at home as a backup plan. You were more on the edge. More content with meeting the people right here, right now, right in front of you – at a bookstore, in line to order lunch, while waiting for the stubborn train to arrive. We became more attached, faster. More connected, sooner. When we wanted to say hello, when we wanted to ask someone on a date, when we wanted to tell them we were so crazy for them, we did it. Without spell check, or the backspace button, or the eyes of our trusted best friend who ends up giving us an anxiety attack.
Now we just swipe left, left, left. Click next, next, next until we find someone with a little bit of a spark that’s set off by their carefully chosen (probably photo shopped) picture. But even then, even they, have so many options that we may never even get to the messaging stage. Even then, when we message, one of us may come off as too sarcastic, as too weird, as too excited. Based on our punctuation, our syntax, our diction. Not our intonation. Even then, after we message back and forth, nothing may ever happen. And if it does, if the small chance the hook meets the mouth of the fish, they may be nothing like they are online in person. They certainly won’t be as rehearsed, as put together, as charming as they were when we mustered up the courage to press the send button with our first message.
So then what happens? Well, then we tell ourselves it’s okay. After a decent date we tell ourselves not to get too attached. Not to care. There’s probably someone better just a few clicks away. After a bad date we mourn just a little bit. We tell our roommate that we’re done with this whole dating thing yet we find ourselves minutes later letting our thumbs do the work while we browse through options online. We stand silently when we’re in line to return socks at H&M or trying to order a beer at the bar. We have nothing to lose so we don’t even try. We don’t count our losses. We say “next time”. We go home. We turn our computers on. We tell ourselves we’re trying. We tell everyone else that we’re really trying hard to meet someone!
Call it a gigantic scapegoat. Call it commonplace. Call it the future of your love life.
Just don’t try to call any of this dating.