Can you tell me a little bit about your relationship with your phone? I bet it’s unhealthy. Even if it’s for work purposes, I bet you have one – an unhealthy relationship that is. Social media is like crack to you; you get strung out on dating apps. Your tech-junkie face is smeared across your snapchat story. Is technology a drug? It feels like a drug. What are the side effects? Is it a bad thing? I don’t think technology is the villain here, just as the people aren’t villains either as much as they are weak – and I am ashamed to say it, but I have recently become one of the weak.
Three days ago I deleted my Twitter account. I’d raised and tended to it as though it were my offspring, letting it suckle on my teet for nearly five-years; watching gleefully as it scampered off into the big-bad world of social media and came home with more and more followers each day – had that been a real child then perhaps I’d have been concerned. Three days ago it was sitting proudly on top of 20k followers, but a cluster of external factors pushed me to the point where I’d had enough. The mental fatigue that comes with being a 20-and-30 something on social media is palpable. My theory is that people used to have several personalities, but now, thanks to social media, they only have one online personality and maintaining that façade is very draining. So, with a click of a bottom my Twitter name disappeared.
To be a good friend though you need to stay in touch; so rather than go complete cold turkey I made a new private account; that way I am in complete control of who sees what I say and it removes any pretence of popularity. Another benefit of this privacy is that people need to request to follow me. No longer will massive hairy guys with faces like a Picasso painting send me seedy DMs saying they want to ‘pound’ me or smother me in barbecue sauce. Random twitter gays won’t launch into a frenzy when I say something they don’t agree with. Yes, I have removed all the strain of Twitter and now, hopefully, I can enjoy it again. Now that only selected people will see my jotted down feelings 140 characters at a time (jot is a pretty casual word for a miniature-dissertations on emotional dysfunction) I feel infused with a foreign sort of bravery. I’m in the middle of changing my life, as well as how I think, so rather than see social media as a toxic hindrance, I’m trying to utilise its abilities for the power of positive outcome: AKA I want a boyfriend, so I downloaded Tinder.
Over the last year I’ve combed through gay clubs searching desperately for a modern-day Hemingway. For someone I can date. Sadly, all I left with was a string of questionable one-night stands, crippling hangovers and a couple of STD scares. Not exactly prime hunting ground for someone that wants to settle down, is it? Like the Twitter fiasco, removing the pretence of finding romance will hopefully make bars and clubs fun again; in order to do this I had to just bite the bullet and download Tinder. I am now one of the many loveless lepers navigating the digital heart-shaped minefield of dating apps. Singing ‘to the left, to the left,’ aloud whenever I’m unimpressed with a profile. There is a list of reasons causing me to approach Tinder with an air of caution. For one, the exhaustion of matching with someone and having chemistry over text then meeting them and realising it was all a waste of time because I 1) don’t look like my photos or 2) they are inherently boring in person, is not something I want to deal with. The ironic references to rom-coms I’ve seen strewn across some bios also makes my heart harden. The spelling is truly horrific. It frightens me how many twenty-somethings don’t have a handle on the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ – is that someone you want to share coffee with? ‘There’s you’re coffee, babe.’ I’m sorry, did you just call me a no-foam, five-shot, half-calf, no-foam pumpkin spice latte with no foam? Rude.
Another fear-factor that Tinder is promising to deliver is awkwardness. What if I chat with someone for so long that the conversation well is completely dry by the time we meet up? At least in a club you’ve got shots of tequila to break the silence. Sober it’s like looking at an empty vase or staring out of a window at a brick wall. When I’m being sarcastic people think I’m being earnest, and when I’m being earnest, people think I’m being sarcastic. I hate forcing small talk. The moral of this is that I should never attempt to communicate. I firmly believe that society should hand out wristbands for the socially awkward to wear. That way people will know we’re just shy and clumsy at conversation and not entirely extra. I made the mistake of putting my Snapchat handle in my bio and now a handful of guys, most of which I swiped left on so hard I nearly took my phone screen off, have added me and are bombarding me with messages. ‘Thanks for adding me!’ I didn’t, cretin. I didn’t. Please do not mould this into something it very blatantly is not and for goodness sake STOP sending me half-nudes. So, yeah, I removed my details shortly after I received a flurry of flaccid dick-pics and a topless photo from a guy that was so hairy I’m sure he’s half werewolf. If I want unprecedented penis pics and weirdos I’ll go back to Grindr, ta.
It’s common wisdom that having a good dad means you’re likely to pick a good man, and I have one of the best dads in the world. He always respects my choices even if he doesn’t agree with them. Yet, here I am, single, on a first name basis with disappointment. I don’t look for someone like my dad when I’m out on the pull by the way, I just want to clarify that. Although there is a bear bar in Glasgow I’ve attended a couple of times. Funny story, during one visit an older, slightly sturdier-in-build-but-not-in-terms-of-sobriety, fellow wondered over, stood next to me and took an exaggerated sniff – like a predatory animal catching the scent of its prey. ‘You smell amazing’ he burped at me. ‘I could smell you from the across the bar!’ Be still my beating heart’ never before had such romantic beer-scented quips been uttered at me. At that moment several thoughts came screaming through my head 1) He either has some sort of enhanced smelling-super powers or he’s feebly attempting to hit on me 2) This bar smells terrible, like piss and cabbage made a baby and left it to ferment 3) Run. 4) Is this what they mean by bear trap? I wasn’t sure if he wanted to fuck me or eat me or both. The drooling caused much confusion. I quickly vacated the establishment after.
The headaches, the worry, the avoiding someone when you reject them, the frantic panic you feel when you wake up in someone else’s bed and desperately claw at your memory, trying to remember both your location and their name. That’s not something I’ll miss, so for the time being I shall see if dating apps increase my chances of finding someone, although I’m not investing a large amount of faith in them. To me Tinder is like a slot machine. You have the promise that you’re going to find something good, and every so often someone decent comes along and reinforces that idea. Attractive matches and easy conversation provide that mini-hit of dopamine to the brain and that keeps us coming back. And dopamine is a powerful neurotransmitter; it’s like heroin for users of dating apps. It teases with the promise of sexual arousal. It’s wired into the circuits of our brains, a sort of survival mode. No point fighting against something that been biologically evolved and present in our brains for tens of thousands of years.
Trying to find someone you connect with is worse than being trapped in a lift with someone that won’t shut up. Sometimes it’s a peppy irritant who passes the journey by humming a half-remembered, off-key version of a TV theme tune. Others time it’s the woman that provides uninterrupted commentary describing which bits of her body are the most uncomfortable. I don’t enjoy the lift-ride toward finding love, and the numerous failed dates I have to go through on the way, but I enjoy the destination when I arrive. So, even though my fingers are be sore from the incessant swiping, I will keep crawling back for more.