It was somewhere between a social experiment and an existential crisis.
I’ve flirted with the idea of dating applications for a while, seeing as I am wholly terrible at, you know, flirting. But the idea of marketing myself like self-published ebook always made me cringe away from downloading Tinder.
“If you like socially awkward girls, this edition is for you!”
“Once you get past the self-consciousness part, she’s a real page-turner!”
It just seemed really uncomfortable and unromantic and disingenuous, besides, where am I going to find the pictures to sell myself in this meat market, can I not just see everyone elses’ faces and hide mine, why is everything terrible, I refuse.
But today, I was struck by the conviction that I had been stupid. The world of online dating must yield more results than staring fixedly at attractive people in Pick ‘n Pay. It was time to take control of my own destiny!
I figured Tinder was definitely the sex one, so I should try something else. OkCupid sounded reasonably popular, although I found the name was less than inspiring. Like, could it not be GreatCupid or SuperCupid? This Cupid appeared subpar.
Right, Kerstin, commit. Download the thing. Oh, it’s not even large. 17Mb. Cool.
It had quite a serene interface, lots of blue. And it seemed that my profile would not be displayed to the outside world until I uploaded photos, so I could fill in the profile data at my leisure. Let’s see… What six things can you not live without? (Be creative.) I don’t know, air? This doesn’t seem very helpful, Cupid.
Now to answer these compatibility questions.
Would you like to be the supreme ruler of all the people on Earth? Er… not really. Is that likely to come up in a relationship? I guess, if it had to be me or Trump…
Would you prefer to be financially successful or remain true to your principles? Both. Why can’t I have both? Fine, I guess I’ll be a good and poor person.
While in the middle of the best lovemaking of your life, if your lover asked you to squeal like a dolphin, would you?
HOLD UP, CUPID.
I may be wrong, but this feels like non-essential information for basic matchmaking purposes. Oh my soul, why a dolphin? My naivety must run deeper than even I suspected if interspecies role-play is a modern sexual norm. No, I will not, I will not, there will be no dolphin make-believe happening. No.
But it didn’t stop there. This souped-up Buzzfeed quiz wanted to know every detail of my sexual interests, down to (and I kid you not), how hard (if at all) I wanted my hair pulled. At some point, I realised that the questionnaire was bottomless; I had answered what felt like hundreds of questions and they just kept coming. Biting? Hypothetically, do you think you would be good at being a porn star? Are you more attracted to virgins? Do you like bondage?
I gave up on answering those and went in search of some pictures. As someone who actively avoids being photographed, this was much harder than it sounds. I cobbled together all of three, and I took the term ‘recent’ in a broad sense. Hence, the length of my hair is radically different in all of them. I hoped no one would notice.
There. Upload. It is done. Where is my complimentary boyfriend?
Within seconds, I had messages. This was very confusing, as I thought I had written quite a lot, and did these people not want to know my feelings about dolphins? (Lols, I hid all of the sex questions that I did not skip, so they would not find the answers, but, you know, they could have looked.) Well, okay, who are you and what are your views on…
46?! I am LITERALLY half your age. Voetsek!
I went back and very clearly stated that I had no interest in anyone over the age of 26. Did this deter them? Apparently not. A thirty-two-year old (who was actually quite nice and pointed out a typo in one of my “about me” paragraphs) noted that I had said no one older, but then proceeded to ask me if that rule was set in stone. Yes. Yes, sir, that’s why I wrote it. But was I sure? 1000%, I’m afraid.
Another guy called me “lass”, which left me wondering if I had somehow teleported to Scotland. Another wanted to know why, if I liked SFF, was Terry Pratchett not on my favourite books list? I don’t know, maybe I read beyond the bounds of King, Gaiman and co? Is Pratchett now a prerequisite for genre reading?
Actually, the fact that I like fantasy seems to be an invitation for weirdness with regards to greetings.
“Salutations Fair Lady!”
I’m weak at the knees, dude. Weak. At. The. Fucking. Knees.
Another guy commenced our interactions with what I can only assume is a plot synopsis for a science fiction novel. This left me wondering whether he was trying to sell a book to me, or impress me with his ability to avoid fullstops entirely.
“Wow! Ur cute Like ur profile”
Burn it with fire.
“You sound interesting.”
And you sound a bit like a serial killer.
All the while, I had not actually successfully fit my profile picture within the circular frame. From what I could tell, my picture was just a section of my hair blowing in the wind, with my face cut off. Despite my best efforts, I could not find a way to fix this. Not that it seemed to bother anyone else, so hair it was.
Seeing as the people sending me a barrage of messages were not all that appealing, it was up to me to find someone to talk to. In a normal, human fashion. Without Victorian greetings or battle cries or whatever else was going on in my messagebox.
I couldn’t do it.
To be honest, I could hardly bring myself to look at other people’s profiles, because I got a notification anytime someone looked at mine. And pressing ‘like’ against a profile picture of some random guy’s face was also… I don’t know. I couldn’t. I don’t like them. I don’t even know them.
I quickly became aware of the way I automatically dismissed anyone I found unattractive. Which, if I’m honest, was almost everyone. I also dismissed anyone I found attractive, because I assumed they were out of my league. This left me clicking on no one, feeling shallow and wondering what on earth I was doing anyway. Then, to my dismay, I saw people I knew from high school.
To reiterate: shallow, confused and now dreading upcoming reunions.
In three hours, 19 guys had messaged me, and 32 had liked my wafting hair. I had liked no one and initiated conversation with no one and I felt like my belief in love and humanity was hitting an all time low. I was under no delusion that the people messaging me were at all interested in my passion for Counting Crows or Ann Leckie, or even my lack of desire for dolphins. The numbers were surely evidence of that – most of them had less than a 30% compatibility match. And I was no better. All I was doing was scrolling through faces and occasionally hesitating, before scrolling on.
Oh, for fuck’s sake, another message from 42-year-old?
Yes, so that’s where I am right now. And I’m fairly certain I will be purging this account from existence before midnight.
Because I’d honestly rather be alone and still able to believe in love.