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A few months ago, I was on a wonderful podcast created by writers JR Hickey and Jenna Crowley. You can hear my monotone voice and opinion on mall Santas in addition to learning my real first name, which many of you already know. It was a great honor and both JR and Jenna are wonderful people.
The reason I mention this is because they do a segment critiquing user-submitted Bumble profiles. This wasn’t an issue except for one thing: I’ve never used Bumble. Or Tinder. Or Plenty of Fish. Or any dating site ever. This is not a humblebrag or anything like that, but for a topic that is covered so often in “millennial” fashion, I feel like I missed out on the experience. I honestly don’t care nor pass judgment on people that use them because life is too short to give a shit about what people do with their lives. I’m a “live and let live” kind of person. Gen X had Match.com, the progenitor of (paid) online dating whereas we are the first generation to have free dating apps widely available.
I remember the first time I heard about Tinder. I have a friend, Mike, that used Tinder in its infancy. He was/is a handsome guy, very personable, and used Tinder with a lot of success. In fact, we often went out drinking after work and he’d have a new girl every few times. I had a girlfriend at this time so it never was in my realm but I always figured this was going to get huge because we young people are libertines at heart.
I’m not completely ignorant to the process. Many of my friends have met their partners through dating sites. Many of my friends have also met through one-night stands, had disaster dates and met sportos, motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, waistoids, dweebies, dickheads and a few righteous dudes. Between my friends regaling me of tales and ‘tent through PGP, I can infer lots of things. However, I am also aware that this is like reading about driving but never actually driving.
My experience on Don’t Take It From Us made me think about the entire process. I’ve never really thought about how I had to curate myself to strangers based on some pictures and a few words. I’m also not ignorant to the fact that people enjoy dating and meeting people and also feel the societal pressure to date, marry, have kids, etc. Apps like Tinder, Plenty of Fish, etc. take away that “barrier” of “does he/she have a partner?” Some people subscribe to the “just because there’s a goalie, doesn’t mean you can’t score” mentality but that’s an article for a different writer.
Online dating has always been there in some form or another. By this, I mean there’s always been dating VHSs, actual phone calling services and newspaper ads, but the apps have cut out the middleman and streamlined the process. If there’s one thing our generation is good at, it’s slacking and making things as simple as possible. I don’t feel like any method is better than another as I met my lady the old-fashioned way: in a bar, drunk as shit, sweaty, confused, and we had an awkward hungover first date at Waffle House the next morning because we both decided we didn’t want to be one night stands.
I’m still not sure “missed out” is something I’d say but the curiosity of how the entire operation works (mixed in with many people in my generation experiencing this) has me inquisitive. I’m aware that it’s not all glamorous, from bots to ghosting to the “here today, gone tomorrow” nature of the online dating process. You only have a few pictures and sentences for someone to thin slice their entire existence and decide if you want to invest your own time in them. To me, this is some Creator-level shit that I don’t know if I could handle. I think that kind of thing would lead to me becoming callous or jaded.
Are dating apps here to stay? Probably. Every now and then, I’ll get an article across my desk about how more and more relationships are starting from online dating. I do research for a living and I enjoy reading. The old man that lives inside me wonders, “Why these dang kids can’t meet ‘em the old fashioned way” replaced quickly by “Who cares, it’s not my life.” After a few seconds, the feelings of “They’ll get divorced at a 50% rate….or will they?” and finally “We’ll all be dead someday so it doesn’t matter.” This about sums up my entire thought process of online dating. And that’s all I have to say about that. .