Life has quickly become about convenience. You only have to stop, if you can find the time in among your seemingly full, hectic schedule, and look. When was the last time you actually stopped and looked, and I’m not talking about walking past the new display window outside your favorite and lamenting of your disappointment of it. Take the simple ‘joy’ of cooking, where one goes to the store buys an abundance of products and having thrown away a quarter of the weight of the purchases is finally ready to turn on the stove. It’s to the point where you can get your vegetables pre-sliced, diced and prepared, and where you simply add an egg and water to a cake mix and you’ve made a cake. That’s cooking? There has been a recent resurgence in many aspects of life to shun this commercialized convenience and go back to basics. Indeed, to keep with the cooking analogy we now have an increasing abundance of meaningless shows dedicated to the amateur and budding home cooks. The cutting edge of new places, the latest fads are all revolving around the ‘old fashioned’ speed dating, and ‘new’ ways of dating are all being repackaged for premium prices in a desperate attempt to return back to basics.
The thing is that everything in life is so conveniently packaged – and it’s done in this way to increase our productiveness in such a time pressed world. What people fail to realize is where the responsibility for that pressing of time resides. A lot of people blame the dedication to work, their social lives, families, and parental duties – when really the time pressed nature of our world is our own construction. What was once an emerging trend, is now an established trend – which is why places that offer a return to the ‘back to basics’ mentality, are now seen as hip, niche, New York and Vogue. But still, it continues. Where once we would go out after work to the bar, have a cocktail and a drink and actually socialise, now we do the exact same thing whilst sitting in a group on our mobile phones comparing tinder profiles, commenting salaciously in ways that would make Samantha Jones blush and Charlotte York reach under the table for a bucket – what was once the cutting edge of social commentary is now actuality.
Mobile dating apps such as Tinder, Grindr, Blendr and a multitude of others have officially become one of the most popular ways of meeting potential love interests in an increasingly technologically driven world. There are many articles both heralding this new way of socialising, demonising it or even condemning it to Dante’s Inferno. If one is to believe Nancy Jo Sales in her article ‘Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’ one would see a painting of the bleakest and bleariest picture when it comes to online/app dating. Without the Capstan salt shaker from Tiffany & Co, one would think that the world is a messed up place that has surreally traveled back in time to a misogynistic castle where Knighted Men in Burberry Suits are purely after the thrill of the hunt throughout their predatory twenties, and women (AKA, Tinderella’s) are lamenting over the idea that men are only after sex and not relationships as they depressingly drink their margaritas and cosmopolitans.
This obviously resurrected passivity and stereotyping of women that is exemplified in Sales writing is strikingly reminiscent of Sex and The City’s first episode – from June 6, 1998, in case you were wondering. I’m not quite sure where Sales has received her data from, or maybe she’d been clutching onto this article for the past 18 years, but its ‘relevance’ is picked up by Karley Sciortino in her Vogue article; Breathless: In Defense of Hookup Culture. As Sciortino points out, Sales sample base for the article is heavily one sided, misogynistic and not at all representative of the actual people on Tinder. Indeed, there are no single men referenced looking for relationships, or women looking for hook-ups. It’s like she has deliberately placed polar opposites in an article to create her own heavily constructed mismatched apocalyptic world to create the perfect back drop for her jaded opinion. . . . oh, wait a minute.
Indeed, whilst someone has clearly been spurned over a Manhatten, Sciortino enlists the help of sex researcher, Dr. Zhana Vrangalova. Deliciously, after condemning Sales, to remind us almost ruefully that
‘There are all sorts of people on Tinder, just like there are all sorts of people everywhere.’
It’s almost a comment of hope that one would find in a singles anthem.
The thing is, that dating apps are convenient. On dating apps there will ‘sorts of people’ specifically looking for casual sex, ‘sorts of people’ specifically looking for long term relationships, and ‘sorts of people’ looking for everything in between. One cannot simply traverse through life any more without multitasking, and ‘pre-dating’ electronically has now become an accepted, and arguably necessary, part of the dating process. This however has its flaws – which I will expose through a very personal and upsetting story. At some point between 1997 and 2002 I missed a very important memo. In my head I had this delightful image of something deliciously cute, furry, and cheekily mischievous, my brain had developed an image in my head that was in my arguments at the time – irrefutable. I do not know where this image came from, or why I so stubbornly clung to it, maybe I had missed half a sentence, or a key word, but it was clear when Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets came out, that I had missed a key description of Dobby the House Elf. I came out of my date with this film utterly devastated and confused that my beloved house elf and turned out to be so. . . well – not what I had imagined at all. Tech based text, that being any text conversation, can be wildly misleading and you can FIL (Fall-In-Like) with nothing more than a figment of your imagination and be absolutely crushed when your date disappoints you by failing to match up with the expectations that you have set them. However – considering the statistics are that 66% of people never meet their tech-based-dates where are these dates actually happening?
The thing is you can be Text-Dating multiple people whilst waiting in line for your sandwich at lunch. This flirtatious 30, 45, 60 minutes can involve several text messages to more people than are ingredients in your lunch meaning that you have effectively crammed ordinarily mundane tasks such as; ordering lunch, texting man from last night’s date night, texted message to colleague regarding work, texted your BFF about ‘Oh Em Gee, today is such a rah rah rah’, reminded yourself that you need to get cat food, messaged last week’s boy-met-online, spent three point four minutes considering something delightfully witty to reply to Boy#4 who you met randomly at the grocery store last week and you’re pseudo flirting through not-so-subtle-yet-overtly-witty remarks concerning cheese, into your lunch break. Oh, did I mention you were supposed to be relaxing from work, you’ve just paid for lunch and is the break over already?! You return back to work in stunned silence silently cursing the ‘short’ lunch break that you have received and your inability to complete all the things that you wanted to whilst on break. Tough world, eh?
In a world full of instant gratification, where through a few simple clicks and time, one can have virtually anything delivered to them – including sex. From Grindr to Tinder and everything in between you will have people who solely log on to have a sexual need fulfilled. With such a view towards gratification is it little wonder then that when it comes to relationships, and something longer lasting that we spend time Text-Dating, sometimes multiple people at the same time. We view this as an attempt to weed out the assholes based on such superficial things such as texting abilities, meme knowledge, ability to know when, and which, funny images to send at the right moment – all of which are increasingly relevant in today’s society and are exceptionally valuable skills to have in order to maintain a long lasting relationship between life, work, and texting everyone else. When everything else is so heavily packaged in a convenient manner, should our dating lives not be the same?
It is clear, through all intents and purpose that the dating game has changed. With such cosmopolitanism and an ease of access to the internet/technology which can connect you instantaneously to someone else with the internet/technology your potential dating pool has increased exponentially, and there needs to be ways to sift through that increased dating pool at a much faster rate. Arguably, it has not only changed the ways we approach relationships but also changed the way we conduct relationships, traverse and navigate through relationships and ultimately who we settle for. Text Dating, and more broadly, tech-dating is a fundamental part of modern dating, but the question is if it is at all helpful, and accurate in selecting partners or if we should revert back to basics? As mentioned before what we see/read may not always be what we receive, and whilst text based dating can lead to a new found openness that doesn’t necessarily exist within a face-to-face context, can that openness transcend beyond the screen or if it starts on that screen, will it forever be doomed to the screen?
Tech Based dating opens new worlds, but it also closes doors that have existed before. The cute awkwardness of the blind date, the fumbling for common ground over dinner – now you’ve pretty much seen their dating resume before you even consider meeting up with them for that first interview. Whilst I’m not suggesting that app dating has condemned us to a doomed state of affairs (Yes, I’m going there), I’m certainly suggesting that there needs to be a re-evaluation of the dating game, an understanding that convenient dating is now more like a marketable business and that worryingly, we place ourselves at risk of failed relationships because we are so overwhelmed by convenience and choice. Perhaps that is why, when it comes to dating – there is a valid argument that we need to come back to basics. Or you can mix the two options together and check out the Top 30 LGBTQIA Nightclubbing Venues & Dating Apps in Sydney.
Author: Stephen Smith – BA Of Social Sciences, M.Ed
Stephen is a cis-gendered gay male who spends far too much time with his two cats and eating tim tams. A self-identified sex-positive advocate he cares deeply about gender equality, disabilities, sexual education and social issues. Opinionated and bold he isn’t afraid to speak his mind and say what others won’t. With a yearning for knowledge and experience in all things relating to sex, he is a prolific writer that has developed the content for a myriad of informative Sexual Health and Wellness websites.
Stephen’s articles and writings tends to focus on social issues, sexual education, queer issues and all things fetish and absurd. He comes qualified with the completion of a double Bachelor degree in Social Sciences and literature, and a Masters in Education.