It’s not often I stick my head above the dating parapet. The combination of failing digestive system (already sexy), mean work hours and just not giving a fork aren’t date friendly. No one likes to be told, when they’ve asked you out on a date that you can manage a date in November 2020. Which is fair. I am perfectly aware that ardor cools with time. And yes, I can see that two years is possibly unreasonable to sustain a conversation with someone you have never met.
But recently, spurred on by the end of summer, a pathetic need for human contact and the kind of optimism only Netflix binges can instill in a soul, I did it. I went back online. I will be honest that online hasn’t always been my friend. A social media detox and day-to-day job immersion in the great glorious ecosystem has taught me that. But I am also the worst combination of time-poor and lazy. So online dating it is then. And you know what, by large, if you ignore comments about my tits, general body size and inquiries as to my opinion on spanking, it’s been like humanity – “mostly harmless.”
And then I met a sample of people over a couple of weeks who seemed ‘promising’. Possible one of the most dubious words in the English language, seemingly tying up hope in the face of experience and a level of expectation that most humans would struggle to fulfill, even on a good day. So failure is immediately guaranteed. What makes the scenario worse however, is that both men in questions (in this case, the subjects in question were male – this is not just misplaced misandry) launched into a series of texts after a period of seeming calm. These texts in short called me arrogant, reactionary and cruel – one even accused of me a psychopath level lack of empathy.
Now to be fair, before some of you gather the torches and pitchforks, I will say these things are usually six of one, half dozen of the other. Texts are a terrible way to deliver meaning and it’s easily misunderstood. But let me be clear, no matter how we got to the point, nothing I did or said merited or was intended at any point to offend. However, the men in question sent me texts of such baffling, explicit vitriol, that at least two of them reduced me to tear in public. Another’s messages has entered legend between me of my friends. I mean, who doesn’t want to be told in graphic detail about an orgy in a pub in Shoreditch on a drunken Wednesday night out. I declined the invite to future events.
All these messages arrived on my mobile. It’s where I hold my life and many of the inner workings of my brain. In every case, it felt like a clear violation of my private space (oooo-eeerrrrr missus).
What has however struck me is that digital lifestyles mean that people talk and act in a way that they would largely never dream of in real life. This we already know lives on social. Because trolls. What’s shocking is that even on dating sites that claim to be about long term matches, not short term bootie calls, this backlash is still very present. And in everyone I talk to, by and large, has experienced it. However, general consensus among an admittedly small sample is that it’s worse for the girls. Especially those looking for hetero relationships. It may also be worse for some sectors of the LGBTQ+ community, but most of my friends who sit within that category are in relationships, and when I’ve had the conflab they mainly use cis, straight female friends at the point of reference.
Basically because it’s online, and largely anonymous, why have we all, in all walks of life, decided our opinion is the most important, we can say WHATEVER we like and social protocol that we would be obliged to uphold in face-to-face transations just don’t count. I mean, pixels don’t have feelings do they. But I think we need to remember in the real world, especially where emotions are involved, that pixels are people too. Or at the very least, that there are people hopefully reading the pixels looking for a human connection. Basically, we just all need to be nicer to each other. Maybe there is even an etiquette book in this. With pictures. Collaboration, anyone?
Whether it’s insecurity, bad experiences or something worse, there is a definite ground swell of nastiness in online dating on all sides. And it rubs off. I have found myself behave in a way that reflects more on the dog-eat-dog dating world, than my own personal values. It’s harder than ever to meet people IRL (and I will be honest my best dating experiences have been from online – I mean, hello happy 6 year relationship) but it’s definitely not what it used to be. So I am going back offline and possibly just giving up. Maybe I will meet someone in the retirement home for broken media planners. We’ll be too old to enjoy it to the full and one of us will probably die soon, but at least the bitterness and ridiculousness of digi dating will be behind. Because everyone will be dating robots by then. Which may or may not be a good thing. At the moment, I am leaning towards to affirmative.