Meg Dillon reminds us that there is life beyond the internet…
Last week, whilst having lunch with a girl friend, we encountered a Tinder crisis: my friend had actually out-swiped Tinder. In London. It’s true. Unless you enjoy swiping right to any old Dick and Harry (pun most definitely intended), this does actually happen. But do not panic. We live in a world of 7.5 billion people. There really are plenty more fish in the, non-cyber, sea. Love came before Tinder my friends, trust me on this one.
Before I go on I would just like to point out that I think Tinder is great. I’ve seen some real Jack and Rose, “I promise I will never let go”, kinda romance come from it. And we all need that kind of hope in today’s world, right? It also works pretty well for people looking for something less committed than dying for each other on a door that definitely could have fit two people.
But, when people start resigning their lives to a lonely existence with a handful of feline friends to keep them company, only because they have swiped obsessively with no success, I can’t help but scream inside. There is a dating world outside of the app. Before Tinder, people had to (heaven forbid) go into bars alone without a date. They ventured into the wild. They had to converse with * le gasp* strangers. And they didn’t have the chance to stalk their date’s Facebook profile pics all the way to 2009 beforehand. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do class myself as a modern woman, and I love the powers of social media, but I can’t help but feel like people are placing way too many of their eggs in the Tinder basket.
Why does this happen? Maybe it’s because in our westernized culture we lack ‘real’ social interactions and we depend too much on social media as a means of communication. We’ve gotten so lost and consumed with social media that we miss what is going on in the immediate world around us. And it’s a real shame.
I mean, I have to hold my hands up and admit I’m a hypocrite – I was entirely guilty of this a year ago. But, in 2016 I was lucky enough to experience a completely different culture. India; the land of zero personal space, and over friendly strangers. On a train in India there isn’t a moment of silence; families chat constantly to one another, games of cards are played with anyone who wants to join in, and breakfast is shared between complete strangers. I didn’t have a minute to myself on any train journey there, and it was so refreshing. Compare that to my daily 8am eye-contactless, silently awkward commute to work surrounded by blank faces glued to their phone screens. Given the choice I know where I’d rather spend seven hours on a train. The things I learnt just from talking with strangers on my trip and the inspiration they gave me has been invaluable. If we could take a little bit of that openness to talk to everyone and anyone, into our little, digital obsessed world, I believe we could really gain something. I’m by no means a hippy about to delete all my social media accounts, but my Indian train journeys really did offer me a new perspective.
It goes beyond the ‘finding yourself’ narrative – it’s about finding other people. Real life interactions are invaluable, and sure it might be less efficient and you might have to use your actual face to express things rather than an emoji, but the world can become a much smaller place if you limit yourself to a screen.
We all just need to get out more, spend less time with our heads bent over our screens socialising through snapchat filters and emojis. We need to stop stressing over the prospects in the digital pool and dive into the dating pool that is around us everyday. If Tinder is lacking in hot prospects, drag one of your mates to that bar where the cute guy works. Sure, he’ll be too busy working but you’ll find there will be plenty other interesting people to keep you company. Or maybe you won’t. But who cares, you would still have had a great night, and who knows who might be around the corner when you’re stumbling home, chicken burger in one hand, and those high heeled boots you wished you’d never brought in the other.
Forget what your mamma told you about not talking to strangers (I’d still discourage taking sweets from strangers though – definitely don’t do that) and be more open to just having a chat with random people. You could make someone’s day, or they could make yours. You never know who you might meet just by wishing someone a good morning, or how many doors could open by striking up a conversation with your fellow commuter. Sometimes we need to put down our phones and engage with those already around us.
You never know, Craig David might just walk by and ask you for the time.
Illustration: Hatiye Garip
Follow Meg on Twitter @megsamyj