Kindling

Put together a short summary about yourself.  Throw it up online.  Post it for people to see, to generate interest in yourself.  Do this a lot; mutual interest will be few and far between.  But when it brings a connection, it’s exciting.  With a dialogue open, you have more control over your future, or maybe the other side will make the first connection.  Either way, there’s potential there.  Maybe a conversation?  If that goes well, maybe a face-to-face meeting?  Sometimes it ends there.  Sometimes it keeps going.  What then?  How about another in-person?  Maybe it goes so well it leads to a more official or permanent arrangement.  And then you’re the happiest person in the world.

I spent nearly three years of my life in this situation.  This is how one might go about finding a job on the internet.  It’s a frustrating process, full of failure, missed opportunities, and, if you’re lucky, the success story to bring it to a satisfying conclusion.  It was my entire life last summer all the way through the middle of the winter.  It was up and down, hope entering, moods lifted, only to devolve back into worry and paranoia between contact.  It’s something a lot of people have to unfortunately go through in this economic climate.

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But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

This is an elaborate metaphor, applied far more accurately than I thought one could be.  I’m talking about the elephant in the room, the game of my generation; one in which it seems almost everyone is involved in, yet nobody really wants to (or knows how to) acknowledge.  I was a more reluctant participant myself.  One random day in April, I decided just to see what it was all about, because, as I often say, why not?

I’m referring, of course, to Tinder.  Never heard of it?  You’re probably older than, I don’t know, 35?  Between 18 and 30 and never used it?  Well, you’re probably in a relationship then (and if you are and you use it, shame on you), or you’re a better person than I am.  I’m not going to describe its mechanics here in detail.  The job-hunt analogy does it enough justice, in my opinion.

tinderSo what was a shy-ish introvert like me doing on there?  Like I said, I just wanted to try.  Not gonna lie, it was kinda nice.  In those times when I was not necessarily feeling that good about myself, it was nice to know there were some people who at least liked what they saw, and the best part was they were never very far away!  Superficial gratification is nice.  It’s also incredibly addicting.  For someone like me who spends admittedly too little time out there in the world living, it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of virtual semi-anonymity and real personal disconnection.

Is it any better than only talking to someone via text and IM, or if I really want to dive into the naive explorations of my youth, connecting mostly through mySpace and Facebook?  In this digital age, it’s all too easy for me to forget that there’s another person on the other side there.  The thing that differentiates Tinder in this case is that, hopefully, the ultimate goal there is a real-life connection, rather than another almost-faceless online contact.  It’s online dating for a new set of jaded, smartphone wielding, lonely young adults.  What have we become as a people?  I’m afraid that I kind of like it.

But all things have an end.  For as much as instant gratification is, well, gratifying, there was something going on here that was deeply unsettling to me.  What good using Tinder has brought me in the last two months (and, surprisingly, it was kind of a lot) was simply overpowered with more distraction and worry than I really need in my life at the moment.  So I deleted my account.  Leading up to that moment when I finally pulled the trigger, there were rarely days I didn’t think about killing it.  And that right there tells me that it was a problem.  I’ll miss the doors it might have opened, but I sure as hell won’t miss the time I would have wasted.  For someone like me, it’s too much.  At this point in my life, I really don’t know what I want, what I need, or really what’s good for me insofar as relationships and dating are concerned.  Maybe in a few weeks/months/years I’ll have it figured out.  Then again, as I’ve noted in the past, things can change in an instant.

At the very least, one thing is clear to me now: I have to move closer to San Francisco.  After all, that seems to be where everyone is.

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