Online dating has changed everything. Gone are the glory days of mustering up courage in your butterfly-filled stomach to ask ‘can I buy you a drink’ or ‘is your friend single’. City life has descended into row upon row of coffee shops populated by sullen people sitting alone with headphones in, taking filtered selfies and swiping, and if you aren’t online good fucking luck meeting anyone. What are your options? Talk to strangers like some kind of sociopath? How can we embrace and evolve alongside the march of technological progress without abandoning earnest attempts at self-awareness, mindfulness and compassion?
The first step in joining the dark side is examining your motivation. Remember the ‘right aspiration’ part of the Buddhist eightfold path? What do you hope to get out of this? A spouse and 1.5 children, a free dinner, a post-breakup ego boost, a pen pal to pass the time at your shitty desk job, or the usual 2-4 week fling that fizzles into amnesia? The majority of these are not good reasons and point to some serious self-love and self-confidence deficiencies indicating you are in no position to proceed. The goal of a healthy relationship is two whole and fulfilled people complementing and enhancing the others lives, not two broken pieces scrambling to find their ‘other half’ amongst a sea of busted up shards of damaged goods. Translation: sort your shit out first.
The Rabbit Hole
Let’s make a few things clear, drifting into a vacuous swiping trance where you consume and dispose of humans based solely on their external features is fucked up. This seemingly harmless human fidget spinner is likely cultivating destructive neural pathways and permanently changing the way we relate to our fellow earthlings. Is there a subconscious ego boost you get from rejecting others? The reality here is that those people are not necessarily even an option for you, not in real life, but on that screen in that moment they are. I’ll left swipe a guy for being prettier than me any day, but would I refuse to give him my number if we met at the local dog park? Not likely. The culture of these apps sells a sick fairytale scenario in which prince charming picks through the bevy of distressed and horny damsels glued to their screens craving the dopamine surge of a mutual ‘like’. The more thought I give this, the less confident I am it can be done ethically and consciously, the rest of this series might be short.
Breeding the Keyboard Warriors
“But going up to someone in public is too hard…” be sure to say this sentence in your head with the whiny apathetic tone you know it deserves. This evolution in courtship has taken face-to-face rejection out of the equation. There is no more “sorry, I have a boyfriend”, “don’t touch what you can’t afford” or whatever other charming jabs these man-children were scarred by in their teenage years and have yet to get over. Yes, a higher proportion of people using online dating are single than in your average bar and ghosting online is far less traumatizing (but also easier to dish out guilt-free) than face-to-face avoidance. This safety net though has produced an ever-increasing gutless demographic in often already xenophobic cities (I’m looking at you Vancouver). Barring mutual friends or some major extenuating circumstance the keyboard warriors flat out will not approach potential partners in real life, a legitimate tragedy. What you see is not what you get with hardened online daters and they typically vanish back down the warm, cozy rabbit hole at the first sign of a challenge.
So you still want to plunge into the depths of swiping hell? A lifestyle riddled with thumb cramps, blue light-induced headaches and chronic low cell battery warnings. Can you do this without degrading into an ego-centric piece of shit? I couldn’t, but if you have faith let’s proceed…
TBC in part 2