2022 is the year I delete dating apps and actually mean it this time. No, listen, I actually mean it this time
28th Jan 2022
I need to not feel like I'm picking someone to talk to in the same way I pick edamame on Uber Eats.
I love social media. Moving to a new country right before the panny D carried a variety of challenges but as a herd animal (human), I was much more focused on finding my people in Australia over border closures, maskne and trying to make Zoom calls fun. Branching out whilst being forced to nest months, and then years of my life away made the virtual world appealing, if not necessary for survival.
Making friends as an adult is… words fail me. It’s a lot of things. Painfully awkward, wonderfully exciting, usually a decent return on investment. It gets trickier the older we get without the same structures we had in our youth like playdates, lunchtime or group projects. We’re free to roam the world as we please and therefore must make a real effort to grasp onto those around us in a nonchalant way and wordlessly mutter “will you be my friend?”
“What’s your name?” “What are your hobbies?” “Do you want to be my emergency contact?” “Will you be my plus one to that thing I really don’t want to go to?” “Will you be honest when I ask you if the crop top looks like a breast hammock as opposed to sexy and Gen Z?” “Will you?” I hope so.
Making friends in a new and locked down country is uncharted territory because, in the beginning at least, being around other breathing humans felt like a risky life choice. Social media let me do the nonchalant grasp when I needed it most. Without Instagram DMs to slide into, I would have called off the Australia chapter because A) there would have been no friends and B) I wouldn’t have known what my best friends in Ireland are eating for lunch and that’s the level of detail I’m seeking, if you’re asking.
My foolproof formula always works:
1. Meet someone in person (during those non-locked down spells);
3. Decide I want them to be my friend;
4. Continuously send memes and propose elaborate organized fun (kayaking, paint and sip, croissant tour) until I have started hanging out with them on a regular basis.
So, it would seem obvious then, that I would use a similar format through a different medium, and for a different purpose, i.e. matters of the heart and vagina – I guess all body parts are involved when it comes to trying to find… love? Or even lust? Maybe just someone to have a titillating conversation with? The bar will continue to get lower the more I think about it so I will end this paragraph now.
While it would seem obvious, it is not straightforward. 2021 may have been the year of the ox but 2022 is the year I delete dating apps from my phone with vigour and actually mean it this time. No, listen, I actually mean it this time. During a feverish bout of viral delirium (COVID) last week, I had an epiphany. If I continue on my current path, I might meet the person I’m going to spend a little or large portion of my life with based on an algorithm, based on what my phone knows about me.
Is that not terrifying? I’m not a boomer, I know that’s how the world works now, but where oh where is the story? I know, I’m really hung up on this rom-com story and maybe I’m being too main character for my own good and that’s ultimately the reason I will end up totally alone bar my imaginary two dogs, two cats, two horses and a garden of chickens, but I need more for this. I need to not feel like I’m picking someone to talk to in the same way I pick edamame on Uber Eats.
The butterflies are moths. The outcome is generally dire. It doesn’t make me feel like my life has any background music, if there was background music, it would be Zombie by The Cranberries because it’s all so ominous and confusing and it does not spark joy for me. If I haven’t made it clear enough already, I want to leave this party.
Just imagine someone walking up to you in the street and asking if you want to have a threesome. It would not happen. The creative license behind profile pictures and prompts is off the rails. There is something very wrong with my generation and it’s a mix of cowardice, lack of manners, poor communication skills and always being one swipe away from the Next Best Thing.
As I wrestled the Rona fever and fog, sat under the cold shower water, lay on my bedroom floor, stared at the ceiling and watched Succession, I realized that the apps are dehumanizing our generation. They’re also making us lazy, allowing us to rest on our laurels and fill the evening void. There’s no need to go out there and have a giddy time with a mate when you can find out how a stranger’s day is going. Are we addicted to the first flurry of flirtation? Are psychologists correct about our eroding ability to concentrate? Instant gratification is probably more addictive than nicotine. I would believe it.
During my sweaty epiphany, I realized something else; an essential part of my foolproof formula is missing. It’s the meet-cute. I have never messaged potential future friends online, to then go for a maybe horribly awkward or kind-of-alright drink with them. I need the chemistry of the meet-cute. The “I love that podcast too!”, or “Oh my god I’ve always wanted to try roller skating as well!”
It’s the formation of a memory, of meeting each other randomly and wanting to see each other again. It’s the satisfied smile on the way home because of how lovely it is to just happen upon something good. God, I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but it’s the spark.
Meeting strangers online lacks the spark. In my experience, there are three outcomes: 1. Not bad 2. Bad 3. Very bad. It just doesn’t sit anymore. I am unwilling to put the graft in. Can you eliminate yourself from the villa? Maybe if I watched Love Island I would be better at all of this.
Objectively, this is risky. I could be out of a job, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.
And maybe some Sunday when the clock strikes 7pm and the scaries come and I feel very alone in the world, my thumb will go to install, so I can talk to John, 31, Software Engineer (holding picture of a fish) or Jen, 28, Physiotherapist (claims they are competitive about everything), but I will hold strong.
So this is me, coming to you, in a new year with a new medium in mind. The meet-cute.
I have to believe that someday I will be standing in a museum or an opp shop or a crowded bar and the person who I’m supposed to spend a little or a large amount of time with will smile at me and I’ll smile back and hopefully, they won’t be smiling at someone over my shoulder and maybe just maybe, I’ll get to live out that silly floppy-haired Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts orange juice scene in Notting Hill.
Pause for effect.
Or maybe I’ll just dedicate my life to being in love with all my meet-cute mates and many animals. Either way, you’ll know about it.