There are so many games you can play. Just thinking about the self-imposed rules of dating in our generation is enough to make me weep. Can’t I just go up to you and be like, “Hi. I really like you. I feel like I could possibly love you. Do you feel similarly? Blink once for yes and twice for no.” Wouldn’t it be so much faster if I cut the crap and just spoke the truth? Why do I have to let my phone and the internet and the advice from my friends dictate the pace? If I texted you four times in one day, would that really be such an error that you would be turned off of me forever? Is this how fickle our feelings have become for one another, where one false move could be enough to end something that’s potentially great?
Just now, I saw a friend post a 2012 Thought Catalog article on Facebook titled Getting Someone to Fall In Love With You. The author starts by reflecting about how in this tech-savvy world we could attempt to woo someone into liking us back — through the use of mediocre and not-so-subtle techniques like liking, commenting, and PM-ing the object of our affection.
We all know too well that it’ll never be that easy. Despite the convenience that technology and social media has afforded us, it still leaves us with enough room for ambiguity and uncertainty. And just like the old times, a possibility of mutual affection can be just as difficult to predict.
Young, elitist prudes
Flashback to about six years ago, pre-smartphone boom. My friends and I have come to a consensus that we will NEVER use dating sites as it is the last frontier for those on the brink of desperation. Our battle cries of “ewww!!!” will reverberate throughout the Intarnets, we shall scorn Ok Cupid, E Harmony, and even Facebook and its profile options of letting you select which gender you’re interested in.
We clung to the hope of finding love in the most “natural” of ways: A seatmate in a GE class in UP Diliman who would borrow your notes, or ask you about what classes you’re taking up and if you had some spare time after class to talk about things over fishball. If not, then it would be a man walking up to you in a coffee shop asking what you think so far about Haruki Murakami’s Sputnik Sweetheart as he saw you reading it halfway.
Most of the time, it doesn’t, or it never works out that way.
For the times that it did, it was beautiful — but the impermanence of things turned it into memories, and it left us (me) yearning for something more, for something ideal.
Love in the time of Tinder
The smartphone boom expanded the range of dating sites (which now became apps), which, for me, made getting to know people somehow more enticing. Enter Tinder, first wave. (Note: My Tinder experience comes in two waves since I deleted the app halfway and had to reinstall it for reasons I can’t disclose.)
I, along with others, were peer pressure-d into trying it out. From hereon, we succumb to the dark side. What makes Tinder so palatable for me is the fact that both parties have control with who they talk to. No creepy messages sent your way unless there is “consent”.
I’ve had a couple of matches during this first wave. Some conversations through Tinder were pleasant enough, but I realized, that is all they will ever be: Conversations. Intellectual compatibility doesn’t last with everyone. The resounding Tinder theme is novelty. It is the novelty of encounters, the exciting possibility of starting something, that gets us hooked. The ease of disconnecting supports this theme as well — when you get bored with someone, it would be so easy to drop them like a hot potato.
On Tinder, people get dumped everyday, in a matter of minutes – or even seconds.
I think of whether this is what we are left with nowadays — instant connections that fuel short attention spans. Another thing I realized was that social networking sites are conspiring to disconnect people even more, at least based from personal experience. When people from Tinder actually ask for your Facebook account, it means they will never speak to you again, and your interactions will be dumbed down to likes.
I was victim to that, as well. So, eventually, after one (and only one) meetup with a guy with a banana photo, I figured it was time to call it quits and deleted Tinder.
The second wave was triggered by a minor attack of paranoia which led me to reinstall the app. Having it sitting on my smartphone wasn’t of much help, so I decided swiping again to pass the time, and to consider possibilities — because that was all this was to me, at least for that time.
I found people I’ve matched with before, and matched with the second time around. Similar to previous results, I’ve only talked to about 10% of the successful matches, and out of all of these, one concluded with a coffee meet up. Luckily enough, it was the only person I’ve wanted to meet out of all of them. The only possibility I’ve wanted to explore.
Fun enough albeit brief, I am (really, really) happy with this meet-up. But I am not one for instant connections — but for intellectual compatibility, shared experience, and endless possibilities.
Disconnect to connect
If there’s anything I learned from Tinder, it is that love and longing exists. There are others who are looking to connect with others like them, and there are others who are as strange and fascinating as we hoped ourselves to be. If there’s anything taught by technology, it is to affirm the vastness of our social spheres, and that we are but a swipe, a tap, or a click away.
What’s problematic is the quality of connection made through such sites and apps. I, personally, am unsure of the genuineness of such interactions. On my end, however, I try to be as genuine as I can. I try to make it worth their (and my) while, because it’s ultimately worthless if I’m just there to exchange bullshit.
Like my friends, I used to think that social sites and apps existed for the desperate — it isn’t quite so. I fell victim to it out of curiosity, and it has left me with new acquaintances and pleasant conversations. You find genuine people who will become your friends — and you find others you want to meet again, because they’re more than just a swipe right.
Would it be wrong to explore possibilities with that second person because I think he’s so cool and I like him enough?