Much has been made about the use of dating apps. There are thousands and thousands of columns online about the emergence of Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, and the like, including a few I wrote myself. A friend of mine who recently returned to the dating pool after ending a three-year relationship said that he’s been told if you’re not on apps, you’re screwed. Many people are on multiple apps and will match with the same people on multiple apps. Crazy. Also, there are app addicts (remember “Tinderellas?”) who have created a system specifically for app dates. Things are clearly getting out of hand. Since I’ve had a while to analyze my experience on apps, the successes and the utter failures, I’ve come to one realization: it’s time for us to return to the wild.
The best metaphor I can use for dating apps is that they are, ultimately, like breeding in captivity. We office dwellers, who spend 40, 50, even 60 hours at our desk to pay our bills and get the “bonus watch” we’ve been eyeing on targeted advertisements all over the interwebs, really only have weekends to go places where we can meet people (aside from work, of course). Therefore, apps logically make sense.
At lunch or at night you can swipe through a selectively screened few from the limited pool of app users and start chatting up local coeds. In many ways, you are curbing human nature. The real power is in someone’s presence. Only in apps can you match with someone attractive enough with whom you’d willingly go sheet spelunking, text back and forth for a week, then finally meet in person and not hit it off and either ghost them or be ghosted. You’ve wasted a week talking to someone only to have to go back into captivity and find another endangered panda to try and mount.
The alternative, of course, it to meet someone out in the wild, which, in my opinion, is the purer, more natural option. When you approach a potential mate in the grocery store and crack an off-color joke about the wide range of uses of Cool Whip, what you see is what you get. There are no surprises. Well, unless they have VD, but that’s just a whoooole other mess. You know what they look like. There won’t be the 20-pound surprise. You can read body language, mannerisms, and signs of interest. Even better, if you snag the date, you have a better chance at having a successful date and bypassing the legislative process to lay some Keystone XL.
Just like with apps, the power is in presence. You should ideally lead with presence since the whole idea is to hit it off in person anyway, right? Apps are turning people into sociopaths and slowly destroying any semblance of social skills. An entire gene pool of introverts. We’re doomed.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I am the guilty preaching to the guilty (and probably some of the innocent as well). Apps really are addictive. I delete them about every two months but somehow they magically end up back on my phone out of pure convenience. I’m weening myself off apps now, but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Bumble will be on my phone again at some point. Unless, of course, I have a successful field test that results in some Animal Planet-caliber lovin’. Which is the ideal case, as the clock is ticking on my twenties and I really, really do not ever want to be going on a Bumble date past 30. I’d rather jump off a bridge into the Chattahoochee River. Better to pack your weekends with real social activity and try your luck at the nearest watering hole. Like Buck from one of my favorite books, “Call of the Wild,” shed the chains of captivity and return to the wild..