The Thinking Person's Guide to 21st Century Dating
The following is a step-by-step guide for the ever-thoughtful, ever-sensitive single person seeking a member of whatever sex(es) they so choose for social/romantic/sexual interaction. In the case of this study we'll assume that the person in question is a male, let's say seeking a woman, and for the hell of it let's call him, I don't know, me:
1. Stay inside. Finish the book you're reading, and then perhaps one after that, there's an unfinished collection of short stories lying around somewhere that you've been meaning to get to. It's important to have your affairs in order before you take a leap like this, you don't want the tail-end of Michael Chabon's Moonglow or the last few stories in that Nabokov collection flailing around in the back of your head and throwing off your focus when you need that game.
2. Stay inside. Unlock iPhone, or applicable smart device. Open App Store. Search: Tinder. Locate the app and find that it is in fact free, and that a whopping 5 or so dollar fee can no longer be used as an excuse for further procrastination. Swipe App Store down. Open Google Chrome. Search: Tinder. Do pointless background research for 10-15 minutes before finally committing to the free download. The download is cued, the little digitized progress bar begins encircling the pause icon. You let it circle to completion. You are now one of those people, you have Tinder.
3. Okay, we're getting somewhere now. Open the app. Now it gives you two distinct options, you can either A. Sign in with Facebook or B. Sign in with Email. Instinctively your very adrenal fear responses tell you to go for the shabbier Email option. As you imagine a nightmare scenario in which the app appears on your Facebook wall. Updates constantly pinging and streaming in a shameful line of status updates down your wall; alerting friends, family, and coworkers of your desperate attempts to ferret out possible sex-partners from cyberspace. Though you know, from things friends have told you, that the app is discrete and by connecting through your Facebook you're given access to many more features with which to better attract, seek, and secure possible dates. Swipe down app. Do another exhaustive Google search on Tinder, but this time in conjunction with Facebook privacy settings. This will only last about 5-10 minutes, as you've been through a similar routine already once before if you've been following along with the steps correctly. Satisfied, you close Google Chrome once more. Now tweak Facebook privacy settings in facile ways for added peace-of-mind. And finally, sign in and connect Tinder through Facebook.
4. Alright, you're pleased to see that you have everything you need. All of your pictures to choose from, relevant personal information, interests, and even your friends list, which you can match against other users to ascertain some broader scope of context with these otherwise absolute strangers. Begin constructing your profile. You do the easy stuff first, for example there's a quaint little category for your "Anthem". This both excites and relieves you, being a product of the Myspace generation, you are very adept with expressing who you are through things other people have created. You sit for a moment and give it some real thought. Your Anthem, not just your favorite song, but the song that really hypes you up, drives you. And not only that, but something romantic, something that says you're not only looking to have a good time, but also for love. Finally you settle on Rebel Rebel by David Bowie, because as you mentioned in a previous blog post, you have been listening to a great deal of the Diamond Dogs album, and more than that it just seems right. You do this not to attract anyone necessarily, you're well aware it will likely attract no one, but you do so because there's always the off-chance that it will attract the one specific type of person that would be so taken with the choice that you would be compelled to ask for her hand in marriage on the very spot. And you notice there's also a section for "My Top Spotify Artists" and you decide, to Hell with it, why not? So you connect Tinder to Spotify too, and a list of your most listened to artists appears, giving mostly nobody but maybe, hopefully that one hypothetical, extremely special girl more insight into you. The list at the moment consists of Saul Williams, David Bowie, The Beatles, Moby, Wolf Alice, Led Zeppelin, John Lennon, and George Harrison. You decide this is well rounded enough, despite the fact that three of the people on this list are dead, and continue on.
5. After you've selected your profile pictures, which should all be the most flattering Facebook pictures that you've taken in the past 2-3 years, at least one of hiking and/or rock climbing and another of one other outdoor sport or activity of your choosing, comes the most important article. The bio. 500 word maximum. Take a deep breath, this isn't that hard. Just be completely honest, be you. Begin typing, try to quantify the most presentable, interesting version of yourself possible:
I'm a writer, a reader, and I love to travel (even if just locally).
At seemingly random times I'll experience sudden spikes in anxiety, and wonder what I'll do with myself from one moment to the next. What assurance do I have for long-term satisfaction? How fleeting is contentment?
My biggest interest is art and creativity in general; I like film, music, and painting a lot.
Sometimes, when I wake up in the morning, I'll seriously wonder whether or not my Beatles figurines moved around by themselves in the night.
I like getting outdoors as much as I can, particularly hiking or even if just to mill around downtown and see what's happening.
How does one remain happy? When we are all merely ensnared in a mad, and inherently unworkable, scramble for personal gratification in things and objects outside of ourselves? Who am I? Who is anybody, when the self is a fleeting illusory construct?
6. Finally, begin swiping. Left to reject. Right to like. Up to super-like, which is not to be used lightly (but will happen by accident once or twice anyway). You swipe for a few minutes, and quickly begin to feel an unshakable sense of guilt and shame as you realize that you're judging large quantities of people based completely upon their appearance and a short 500 word bio. You continue anyway. You try to determine intellect, emotional availability, and psychological health through severely biased and manipulated strings of images. You assume that you are successful. And somewhere along the line, after you've been going for some time, you notice a common trend. Most of the women you swipe right on possess one or more of a combination of traits: they read, enjoy travel, like sushi, drink tea, meditate, do yoga, identify as feminist, identify as democratic socialist, and/or own one or more cat(s). You also ascertain, after examining such a wide cross-section of potential mates, that anyone you involve yourself with will have to be very special indeed, or at least extremely tolerant. As you are a pretty weird guy. You swipe for awhile longer: Registered Nurse. Swipe left. Nursing student. Swipe right. Dental hygienist in training. Swipe left. Art teacher. Accidental super-like.
7. Continue to use app for 1-2 days. You experience a completely unsubstantiated boost in real world self-confidence as a result of the detached judgement of superficial, digital images. Inexplicably, you find talking to women in public settings much easier now despite an on-off history of social anxiety. Though you can't help but to wonder whether the app is working correctly or not. As you receive no actual matches for 4-7 days, with the exception of a number of false matches which turn out to be scam-bots. Finally you receive a genuine match. After it is clear that this is not a bot but a genuine human being, you stress for 10-20 minutes about how you will "open" with your match. You observe profile pictures. Reread the bio. Scan linked Instagram and Spotify profiles if applicable. After much thought and consideration you open with a cheesy line irrelevant to any of the collected data. She responds in kind. You reply back. A conversation ensues on and off for 30-45 minutes. One person abruptly stops replying. You never speak to her again.
Repeat steps 1-7 as necessary until results yield favorable outcome. And/or tedium forces you into real world interactions with desired members of the opposite sex (or applicable sex(s) thereof).